CYBER THEFT: COULD YOU BE A VICTIM WHEN BUYING A HOUSE?
September 29, 2016 | Richard Sites
Cyber theft is one of the fastest growing sectors of crime today. Hardly a day goes by without hearing of some new scam, hack or cyber attack. And with more and more information being transmitted over the internet the opportunity for new hacks is increasing. Now, cyber criminals have devised a method of stealing the money set aside for your house purchase.
Here’s How it Works:
Most email is very insecure yet even the most sensitive information is often conveyed using it. During a real estate transaction it is not uncommon for dates, times and dollar amounts to be emailed between parties.
Hackers have discovered that they can break into a real estate or title company’s email and submit fictitious wiring instructions to unsuspecting parties. So, buyers may be scammed into wiring their closing funds to criminals instead of wiring the funds to the closing company.
We just learned that a staggering 500 million email accounts were hacked at Yahoo, one of the world’s largest email providers. With the new CFPB regulations in place, blame for leaks of sensitive information can be spread around to ALL PARTIES involved in the deal.
Now, there is also a cottage industry developing for attorneys suing when a breach occurs because there is no insurance coverage that protects buyers from such a scam. If you get scammed out of the money you had set aside for a purchase, your only recourse is a lawsuit, which could cost you thousands and take months to settle.
How to Protect Yourself
Buyers should agree with their agent early in the transaction – and in writing – to be suspicious of any wiring instructions , or changes in wiring instructions, that they receive by email. If such a change is requested always confirm the changes by phone or some other means besides email.
Whether a lawsuit recovers all your funds is not the issue. You don’t want to be tied up in a legal mess for months, lose the house you had picked out, have your moving plans ruined, live in a hotel or rental until your money is recovered and lose legal fees when all of this could be prevented.
If you would like to have a conversation about meeting your real estate needs quickly, contact me directly at 561.762.4073.