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Protect Your Money from Wire Fraud Schemes and Mortgage Closing Scams
Beware- Phishing and Wire fraud Schemes are on the rise in electronic commerce. These schemes exist in the real estate world as well.
This American Land Title Association video highlights some tips on how to ensure your transfer of funds can be protected
Watch out for email phishing scams. The scams target homebuyers [and borrowers] who are nearing the closing date on their mortgage loan. The scammers attempt to steal the homebuyer’s closing funds—for example, their down payment and closing costs—by sending the homebuyer an email posing as the homebuyer’s real estate agent or settlement agent (title company, escrow officer, or attorney) [ or even the loan officer]. The email falsely claims there has been a last minute change in the closing process or that the wiring instructions have changed. It instructs the homebuyer to wire or otherwise electronically transmit the closing funds to a different account that the scammers control.
We encourage consumers to exercise vigilance and caution to proactively guard against these scams.
Below are some tips, including tips from the FTC, Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN ), and the FBI, to help you protect yourself against these types of phishing scams and take action if you are a victim.
- If you receive an email requesting that you send money in connection with the closing, even if it’s from a familiar source, STOP. Call your real estate or settlement agent to discuss.Don’t use phone numbers or links in the email.
- Don’t email financial information unless you use a secure portal. If you fail to use a secure email portal, email is not a secure way to send financial information.
- Before sending any wire transfer, ask your bank for help identifying any red flags in the wiring instructions. Red flags include potential discrepancies between the account name and the name of the intended beneficiary (i.e., your real estate or settlement agent). Your bank may also be able to compare the receiving account number to account numbers identified in past consumer complaints as the destination of fraudulent transactions.
- Confirm receipt of the wire transfer with your settlement agent immediately after the wire was transmitted. If you or another entity involved in the closing suspect a problem, report it to law enforcement and your bank as soon as possible to increase your likelihood of recovering the money.
- Excerpted from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau website July 7, 2017
From: https://www.consumerfinance.gov/about-us/blog/buying- home-watch- out-mortgage-closing- scams/