If you are a buyer, seller or real estate agent involved in a sale transaction, or may be in the future, please read this important warning from the Federal Trade Commission as posted by the National Association of Realtors (NAR):
“On March 18 the FTC Consumer Blog issued a post focused on hackers who have been breaking into some consumers’ and real estate professionals’ email accounts to get information about upcoming real estate transactions. After figuring out the closing dates, the hacker sends an email to the buyer, posing as the real estate professional or title company. The bogus email says there has been a last minute change to the wiring instructions, and tells the buyer to wire closing costs to a different account. But it’s the scammer’s account. If the buyer takes the bait, their bank account could be cleared out in a matter of minutes. Often, that’s money the buyer will never see again.” – NAR
To read the article in it’s entirety click here. The bottom line is that during the course of the transaction if you receive any emails asking you to wire money to escrow or the lender, you must contact the sender first and verify the account number prior to sending any wires. If you do not do so, you could lose the entire sum. PLEASE never wire money to anyone based on an email until you confirm the account number with the sender. It is too easy for hackers to get into accounts, as I am sure you may have seen before, and phishing is on the rise so protect yourself.