Beware: Wire Fraud In Real Estate Transactions
Wire fraud is the single biggest issue in real estate transactions right now. The problem unfortunately is the result of the identity theft issue that has been around for a while. I will explain how the problem works and give you tips to protect yourself as well.
Wire fraud essentially is when funds from a wire a directed to another account who the send did not actually anticipate to send to. For example a real estate transaction we would all agree has lots of money being exchanged. The buyer has to bring in their down payment, seller will receive proceeds and the mortgage company has to send the loan amount as well. This large amount of money changing hands can lead to problems if you are not careful.
What happens is a third person outside of the transaction will pose as the seller or title company. They will then direct the title company to wire proceeds to their account when in reality they are not involved. As a buyer you might see fictitious wiring instructions as to where to send your down payment. In both these situations the person poses as an entity they are not in hopes that the person sending the money does not notice. Once those funds are sent there is not getting them back, and by the time you notice the money is gone.
So what can you do to protect yourself from being a victim. First it starts by protecting your own computer and email. These thieves want to have access so they can pose as you and make their emails much more easier to believe. Next have a clear line of communication with who ever is giving you wiring instructions or you are giving them wiring instructions. This means if you are the buyer it is best to call the title company directly or even visit them in person to verify the wiring instructions. If you are a seller doe the same, the last thing you want to do is be out of your hard earned proceeds.
Just realize this is a big issue that is getting more sophisticated every day and posses a big problem. As a real estate agent I am very aware and work with other title companies who take this problem seriously. Everyone involved knows the threat and takes it very seriously. They are not offended or surprised when you call or visit them just to verify some information, it has become very common and we welcome it.
With a heart of a teacher I look to educate my clients about the process of buying, selling or renting real estate. I strongly feel an informed and educated consumer will make better decisions and be less likely to be taken advantage of.
Have questions about this or other topics, don not hesitate to contact me.
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Luis Cuevas, Realtor®
RE/MAX Cross Country
1990 Justin Road
Highland Village, Texas 75077
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