A dramatic rise in cybercrime has home buyers and sellers nervous about the security of their sales. Wire fraud, phishing attacks, and identity theft are just some of the many ways criminals are exploiting home sales. The more you know about cybercrime in real estate, the better you can protect yourself from becoming a victim.
How do cybercriminals attack real estate transactions?
Learning how cybercrime is done successfully can help you better prepare yourself to look for suspicious activity during your home sale. Let’s take a look at some of the top cybercrimes in real estate.
Wire Fraud: Wire fraud is when a party to a real estate transaction is tricked into sending money to the wrong entity. Often this will include a fake email or phone call providing fraudulent wiring instructions to a bank account not controlled by your title company or lending institution.
Spoofing or Phishing: Spoofing or phishing attacks happen when the attacker sends you a fake call to action. Phishing attacks can appear as an email, text message, or social media notification. They will appear as though they are legitimate and can include items such as bank logos, real estate firm logos, and convincing warnings or notifications. Often they will request your login information or have you take a certain action to remedy the fake problem they are contacting you about.
Malware: Malware is a program such as ransomware or a key logger that is installed on the victim’s device. Often installed without the user’s knowledge, malware can hide behind the scenes tracking your behavior, stealing your information, or encrypting your data while demanding payment in return for decryption.
These and many more types of cybercrimes in real estate are especially dangerous as they are often impossible to reverse the impact of.
How can you avoid becoming a victim of cybercrime in real estate?
The best prevention of cybercrime in real estate is education. It is important to become familiar with the ways that cybercriminals will attempt to extort or extract information from you about your real estate transaction. In addition to being suspicious of communications, you can:
- Verify any information you receive. If you received wiring instructions or an email that says your password needs to be updated, call your real estate agent, title company, or lending bank to verify the authenticity of the request.
- Do not share sensitive information insecurely. Are you being asked to send sensitive information such as a bank statement to any party in your real estate transaction? Before you do, find an encrypted and secure method to send your information.
- Notify your real estate agent, title company, or lender of any suspicious activity you may note during your transaction. Even if you don’t fall for the cyber criminal’s attempt, you should still notify the parties involved in your real estate transaction. Your alert helps those involved better secure the home buying and selling process by being aware of current threats.
Cybercrime in real estate will continue to be a challenge. However, you do not have to become a victim in your next home sale or purchase. Knowing how cybercriminals work, being alert and aware of any suspicious activity, and notifying all parties of potential attempted breaches will help keep you safe and secure.