Best Practices for Protecting Yourself and Avoiding Fraud
There are a variety of ways to protect yourself and your information from perpetrators of these types of fraudulent schemes. Preparation—before, during, and after your real estate transaction—is the best way to ensure a positive outcome.
Check, then double-check, information.
When you receive a request for information, especially if it is unexpected or alarming, check every detail of the email, including the address it was sent from, contact information, and spelling of names. Don’t click on links or download files from an unsolicited email or from one that you’re unsure about.
Communicate with and through your real estate agent.
Part of the value your real estate agent provides is as a conduit and buffer between you and the other parties involved in your real estate transaction. Reach out to your agent consistently, and let him or her provide you with pertinent information. If communication flows primarily through your agent, you’re less likely to be fooled by an unsolicited email or phone call.
Talk to your title company.
Before you decide what title company to work with, ask them about the cybersecurity protections they have in place, including cyber fraud insurance in the event of a fraudulent financial transaction. Make sure that they will have your back and protect your funds if needed.
Don’t allow anyone to rush you.
One of the ways that scammers motivate you to take action is to create a false sense of urgency. They may do this through a tight turnaround time or by telling you that something must take place immediately. While time is of the essence in real estate transactions, you always have time to consult with your real estate agent, lawyer, or CPA in the case of a transaction-related demand.
Don’t allow anyone to threaten you.
Similarly, a false sense of urgency can be conveyed by telling you that you’ll lose the house, your closing date will fall through, or your mortgage will be denied. In the case of tax fraud, you may be told that you will be imprisoned or fined if you fail to comply with the scammer’s demands. Contact your real estate agent, legal counsel, or a financial advisor before taking any action.
Don’t send personal or financial information through email.
One of the easiest ways to hack your transaction-related information is through email. Rather than having sensitive information transmitted via email, ask your real estate agent about secure transaction coordination through a cloud-based management system. Alternatively, you can set up a secure Dropbox account and share it with your real estate agent, lender, and closing officer in order to ensure that all documents are stored securely.
When in doubt, ask your agent.
We can’t say it enough: if you receive a communication, demand, or request for information from someone other than your trusted real estate agent, contact him or her immediately. Your real estate professional is educated on the latest schemes in your local market and can help you navigate your transaction safely.
This content was originally published here.