Where there is money, there is sure to be someone trying to take it from you dishonestly. Some honest companies have been unfortunate victims of a misunderstanding, such as the supposed ACN scam (which is a fully legitimate business). However, some scams are very real. For example, real estate scams.
Although most home-buying transactions run smoothly, you may be surprised at just how many incidents of fraud take place. But by just making yourself aware of the latest real estate rackets and following a few protective guidelines, you can help prevent yourself from losing both your money and your dream home in one misguided transaction.
The Track-the-Email-Exchange Scam
Cyber security experts say that this scam targets the real estate industry and is a growing threat to consumers. By gaining access to email exchanges between realtors and their clients, scammers find out pertinent information that they use to their own advantage.
A scammer creates a bogus email account, using the name of a legitimate real estate agent. Then, he or she contacts other legitimate agents in the industry. If someone responds, clicks a link, or downloads a file contained in the email, the hacker can gain access to all client information such as names, closing dates, and financial information.
Even more, once the hacker has access to an agent’s email, they also gain access to all exchanges made between agent and client. This allows the ability to view detailed and specific home-buying information and gives everything they need in order to create their own fake email with enough authenticity to fool just about anyone.
For example, a title company imposter may send “last-minute closing information” asking for a wire transfer to a specific account…their own!
The Take-the-Deposit-and-Run Scam
Sometimes called the “Renter Deposit Redirection Fraud”, this scam basically involves a scammer posing as a landlord, cheating you of your deposit money, and then leaving you without the home you were hoping to rent.
It usually goes something like this:
A scammer copies pictures and information from real online home ads. They then repost the information (with a price that is too good to pass up) under a fake name and phone number. When a potential renter calls, the scammer responds via text and says he or she is out of town. If the potential renter wires the deposit money into the landlord’s account, a key will be given and the home will be put under rental contract.
A Few Protective Guidelines
To keep you and your money safe, just follow these few protective guidelines:
- Don’t open or respond to any emails, links, or files that you are not expecting or that uses incorrect grammar.
- Check the sender’s entire email address to ensure it is being sent from the correct person.
- Never send any personal information (date of birth, account numbers, social security number, etc.) through email.
- Always call your realtor, title company, and prospective landlord by telephone if you are concerned about an email they have supposedly sent you.
- Never send money to an overseas account.
- Don’t put money down on a property without walking through it and speaking to the seller or renter in person.
Now that you know about these latest home-buying scams along with how to protect yourself, you are better equipped to make your dream home become your reality…without your money falling into the wrong hands!