Buying a home is usually the largest purchase a buyer makes in a lifetime. Even though buyers who take out a loan to purchase do not actually see the money, and in our modern age, the entire transaction is done electronically, there is still a risk that the money can be stolen, diverted to a criminal account through wire transfer fraud.
Lawbreakers begin the process of stealing money via wire long before the actual theft occurs. Usually, they start with a “phishing” scam. Phishing is the process of obtaining personal information from people using emails, phone calls or website forms, often appearing to be from a legitimate source such as your bank, credit card company or PayPal. Through seemingly innocent, everyday communication, criminals can trick unsuspecting users into entering their personal information or clicking a link that allows hackers to steal the user’s login and password information.
More and more, these phishing scams are targeting large businesses instead of individuals. Martin Licciardo, a special agent in the FBI’s Washington Field Office, said the best way to avoid getting ripped off is to verify the authenticity of requests by speaking to people directly. “The ability of these criminal groups to compromise legitimate business e-mail accounts is staggering,” he said. “They are experts at deception.”
Title and settlement companies are better learning to protect themselves by increasing staff awareness of these scams. According to the FBI, businesses that deploy robust internal prevention techniques at all levels (especially training front-line employees who may be targeted by initial phishing attempts), have proven highly successful in recognizing and deflecting email scam attempts.
At Setco, we stay abreast of all the red flags and warning signs. We double check customer information, as slightly changing a legitimate email address is a known tactic. We also communicate clearly with buyers and lenders throughout the process, and make sure all parties are aware of the transaction parameters before they take place. Since the threat of wire fraud is not something that can be prevented with a “one and done”: checklist, but is an ever evolving and changing one, Setco works hard to stay agile and adjust our responses as the tactics change in order to keep our customers’ and our lenders’ information and investments secure. Please click below to learn how our professional staff can help you with all your title and closing needs.