Mortgage Advice

How to Detect and Avoid Real Estate Wire Fraud

May 25, 2017

Imagine spending years saving up for a down payment on your dream home. Closing day has finally come, and you’re ready to make things official. There’s just one large problem: the money you wired to the title company is missing. But, how?

As our world becomes increasingly digital, so too has the home buying process. This has opened the door for sophisticated cyber criminals to send false wiring instructions at the time of closing—an activity that has become known as real estate wire fraud.

What is real estate wire fraud and how does it happen?

Cyber criminals will hack email accounts and send fake wiring instructions right before closing. The email typically states that there has been a change to the wiring instructions. Buyers, beware: this email will look sophisticated, professional and convincing, which sometimes makes it difficult to catch. If the home buyer follows the false instructions, they will be wiring money directly into the hacker’s bank account.

How can you protect yourself from becoming a victim of real estate wire fraud?

Preventing real estate wire fraud is always top of mind at Ross Mortgage, which is why we want to advise our valued customers to take the following steps to reduce the risks of becoming a victim:

  1. Talk to your loan officer and realtor about the risks of wire fraud throughout the home buying process.
  2. Never accept any email wire instructions that are not encrypted from your title company.
  3. Wire instructions never change mid-transaction. If you receive edited instructions from your title company, give them a call or stop into their office to confirm in person.
  4. Email instructions should come in an encrypted email from your title company. If you receive non-encrypted instructions from outside of the title company, assume they are fraud. Confirm this face to face or over the phone with the title company.

If you’re concerned about using a wire transfer during the home buying process, consider asking your title company if they will accept a cashier’s check, which is typically brought in two to three days prior to closing.

At Ross Mortgage, we want to protect each and every one of our customers from the possibility of becoming a real estate wire fraud victim. From proper training to secure servers and computers, we have many physical, electronic and procedural safeguards in place to protect our customers’ information from unauthorized access.

Your financial security is of the utmost importance to us. If you have questions about real estate wire fraud, please send us a message and we’ll put you in touch with a member of our team who can address your concerns.