Not the most exciting topic in real estate, but really important.
At BHGRE The Shanahan Group, our job is to make sure that the purchase or sale (or both) of your home goes smoothly and that your interests are protected. We have recently become aware of a rising trend in the number of scams or attempted identity theft, at both the national and local levels. In a bustling spring market, it's not a fun topic to blog about but it's something we should all be aware of. Below is a note from our broker/owner, Nan Shanahan outlining these threats and how to protect your identity and your money- even in this crazy spring market!
A Note from Nan
Dear Clients and Friends,
Recently there have been increased reports across the nation of a theft scheme that involves hackers stealing email addresses and sending fraudulent wiring instructions to homebuyers and tenants. Realtors®, lawyers, title agents and buyers could be affected. The criminal scheme has many variations and this notice is not intended to describe each situation. As an actual or prospective buyer or tenant, we want to alert you to the situation so that you can minimize the risk that you could be a victim.
We strongly recommend that before you wire any funds to any party (including your own lawyer, real estate broker or title agent whom you know to be involved in your transaction) that you personally call them to verify the wire instructions (you should confirm the ABA routing number or SWIFT code and the credit account number). You should call them at a number that you have obtained on your own (e.g., the sales contract, their website, etc.) and should not use the phone number that is contained in any email - even if the email appears to be from someone you know. A common aspect of the scheme involves the criminal hacking the sender's email (unbeknownst to them) and sending you an email that looks like other legitimate emails you have received from that party. The email contains the criminal's wire instructions and may contain the criminal's phone number and once your funds are wired by your bank to the criminal's account there may be no way to recover those funds.
PLEASE EXERCISE CAUTION BEFORE WIRING FUNDS TO ANY PARTY
It's a busy time of year in real estate where transactions happen very quickly and involve many people. Take the time to carefully read emails and documents and contact your agent and your attorney whenever you have a question or if something seems strange along the way.
All the best this spring,
This Important Notice is not intended to provide legal advice. You should consult with a lawyer if you have any questions.