“FBI statistics show a record number of reported wire fraud victims across the U.S. in May 2018,” the realty group said in a statement. “These have the potential of costing unsuspecting consumers thousands of dollars that will likely never be recovered.”
HAR released the following tips to help guard against wire fraud:
- • When possible, use a cashier’s check for closing funds instead of a wire transfer.
- • Call before you wire. Buyers should initiate a call to the title company and have the title representative read back the wiring instructions for verification before initiating a wire transfer.
- • If you discover a fraudulent transfer, immediately contact your financial institution and request a recall of the funds. Second, contact your local FBI office and report the fraudulent transfer. Law enforcement may be able to assist the financial institution in recovering funds. Finally, regardless of dollar loss, file a complaint with the FBI’s Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov.
- • Verify by phone all requests for a change in payment type and/or location. Scammers often request that payments originally scheduled for check dispersal be made via wire instead.
- • Most wire fraud cases begin with hacked email accounts and/or bogus emails purportedly from title companies, lenders, real estate brokerages and other trusted sources, so confirm verbally (by phone or in person) about planned email exchanges between parties.
- • Fraudulent emails can seem legitimate, containing company logos and branding, as they direct consumers to wire funds to a fraudulent account. Once funds are wired there, that money is lost.
- • Never send personal information, such as bank account numbers or other financial information, via email or other unsecured electronic communication.
- • If you receive electronic communication regarding wiring instructions – even if the communication appears to come from a legitimate source – be sure to verify the authenticity of the communication before transferring funds by using a recognized phone number that does not appear in the electronic communication.
In general, brokerages will never use electronic communication, such email, text messages or social media, to ask a consumer to wire funds or provide personal information.