by Ed Cyrek
2019 President, Lorain County Association of REALTORS®
You finally found it: the ranch contemporary in the trendy part of town you’ve been eyeing for years--the one with the best coffee shops and favorite farmer’s market. You made your best offer and it was accepted. Now, you’re about to close on your dream home.
Then just before closing, an email from your real estate agent pops up, claiming a last-minute change to the money-wiring instructions. You wire the funds. But the money never makes it to the bank. It turns out that email wasn’t from your agent--but a hacker. You got spoofed.
Unfortunately, these days, enterprising hackers are busy tricking homeowners into sending them their hard-won down payment.
How? They access email accounts by snagging passwords through public Wi-Fi and via email solicitations that appear to be from senders you know.
The bad guys comb through the email accounts, searching for any information about home sales and upcoming closings. Once they’ve found what they need, they send consumers an email posing as their real estate agent, attorney, or escrow officer. The email includes wiring instructions linked to a fraudulent account.
Follow these steps to ensure this never happens to you:
#1: Never Send Personal Info Over Email: Personal info includes a bank account number and a Social Security number. Your agent shouldn’t be sending this stuff by email.
#2: Pick Up the Phone: If you ever receive wiring instructions by email, call your agent or lender to confirm one of them sent it. Call the phone number you have on record for your agent, not the one listed in the suspect email.
#3: Discuss the Wiring Process With Your Agent: Early on in your relationship with your agent, ask about what you should expect, when and from whom.
#4: Change Your Passwords Often: Create a reminder on your phone or computer to update passwords monthly. Make them strong, something even your friends and family members wouldn’t be able to guess right away. Something other than password1 or your dog’s name.
#5: Set Up Two-Factor Verification: Two-factor verification, which requires both a password and a code that's sent to your phone or other device in order to log in, is more challenging to hackers than a single layer login. Make sure you set it up on your email and bank accounts.
And remember, the next time you’re in the market to buy or sell your home, contact a REALTOR® member of the Lorain County Association of REALTORS®. A REALTOR®'s knowledge about your local housing market is invaluable.
If you are thinking about buying or selling a home, contact a professional REALTOR® today. Members of the Lorain County Association of REALTORS® care about the community in which they live, work and support. Lorain County offers a wide variety of housing choices.
Do your research and take advantage of the many housing opportunities right here in Lorain County. We are fortunate to live in a region with such vast offerings. From big to small, country to city... it's available in Lorain County! Our proximity to highway and freeway access provides great commute options both east and west! Contact your LoCAR REALTOR® member today.
The Lorain County Association of REALTORS® is an industry trade association representing licensed real estate sales agents in Lorain County who are members of the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) and the Ohio Association of REALTORS® (OAR). As members of NAR these licensed real estate agents have earned the REALTOR® designation and they pledge to protect the rights of homeownership and conduct their real estate business abiding by the NAR Code of Ethics.
The Lorain County Association of REALTORS® is one of more than 1,200 local boards and associations of REALTORS® nationwide that comprise the National Association of REALTORS®. The National Association of REALTORS®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing nearly one million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.
REALTOR® is a registered collective membership mark which may be used only by real estate professionals who are members of the National Association of REALTORS® and subscribe to its strict Code of Ethics. Not all real estate sales agents are REALTORS®. All REALTORS® are members of NAR along with their State and Local Association.