A hot topic in our office lately has been Wire Fraud. I put Wire Fraud in capital letters because it’s that important. When the bad guys win, the buyer can lose hundreds of thousands, even millions of dollars and it’s gone in a flash, never to be seen again. So arm yourself with the knowledge to keep your money safe from the bad guys!
- Wiring instructions should never be sent un-encrypted! If you are receiving wiring instructions from a title company that have not been sent encrypted, I would not wire funds without first verifying with your Realtor and/or the title company that you have the correct account information.
- Be sure you are contacting the title company directly and with the correct contact information (not necessarily the number listed in the seemingly normal email you received) and not responding to a message regarding wiring of funds from an email that may have been fabricated in a spoofed email. A good rule of thumb is to verify the contact information from your initial title commitment. You should never receive wiring instructions attached as a pdf or as the last page on a title commitment. This is not a safe practice. If you do, certainly don’t forward them.
- Know who your closer is at the title company. First and last name and make sure they know you. If you have any questions, contact that person (or their assistants). These sneaky bad guys like to set up ‘offices’ with wrong phone numbers that answer your calls and tell you, “Oh your closer Sarah had an emergency and isn’t in today but I can connect you with Dave!” Except you’ve called some guy who wants to steal your down payment.
- Another important note: If you receive an email that is encrypted – once you forward that email it loses the encryption – unless the receiver has the encryption software.
- If your seller is having proceeds wired from the sale of their home, some closers want those wiring instructions at the closing table only and directly from the hands of the seller. They will not accept a phone call or an email with those instructions, because ultimately they do not know if the phone call and/or email is legitimately coming from your seller.
- If you are a cash buyer, many title companies do require that those funds be wired prior to closing.
- And as always, change your passwords regularly.