Settlement fraud is being reported more frequently. Scammers email wire instructions or “revised” wire instructions using hijacked email addresses so that it appears to be coming from the settlement agent or realtor.
Check out the short video from freddiemac.com. It explains how scammers use e-mail to trick homebuyers into wiring their settlement money to phony bank accounts and tells you how to spot and avoid settlement fraud.
Here are some red flags to help identify this scam
- The email will request that no one else be included on the email communications.
- The email will request funds in an amount that is not consistent with the estimated funds to close.
- Wire instructions that come form someone other than the settlement/title company.
Ways to protect yourself from this scam
- Never send any sensitive financial information via e-mail
- Prior to wiring any funds, contact the intended recipient via a verified telephone number. Do not rely on telephone numbers or links provided within the e-mail
- Clean out your e-mail account on a regular basis. Your e-mails may establish patterns in your business practice over time that hackers can use against you.
- “Revised” wire instruction should be thoroughly investigated by contacting the settlement / title company using their verified phone number.
As always, if you have any questions or concerns, do not hesitate to contact me!