In this modern age, many parts of real estate transactions are conducted online.
You can search for properties and agents online, approve and sign documents with e-signatures, and use these conveniences from anywhere with an internet connection. Many think that cybercrime targets mainly technology businesses but real estate companies are not immune.
Miami Agent Magazine reported that: Earlier this year, the FBI released data showing that cyberattacks in real estate transactions had grown at a staggering rate. In 2016, there were $19 million in reportedly fraudulent real estate transactions from cyberattacks – and in 2017, the number had grown to almost $1 billion ($969 million).
Some large agencies may think that they have impenetrable cybersecurity practices in place, while smaller agencies and clients may believe that they are “small potatoes” and no cybercriminal would bother with them. The important thing to remember, no matter the size of the company or amount of money you work with, is to always exercise caution and remain on guard against a cyber attack.
A cyber attack sounds ominous and scary and mainstream television may portray it as a huge event that is impossible to miss. The reality is that cybercriminals are sneaky and try to trick you into providing personal information without even realizing it.
Both agents and clients should keep the following points in mind whenever conducting business online:
Always watch for fake emails asking for personal data
, such as passwords or financial information. If you are not absolutely sure about the origin of an email, never click a link included within. Don’t enter information into, or attempt to change a password, through a link within a suspicious email.
If you have any sort of questions call the source to check if the email is legitimate. Remember when calling the source to call a number other than one listed in the email. Cybercriminals often include fake numbers and websites that look and sound surprisingly professional and trustworthy.
Pay attention when using wire transfers.
Always confirm the details with the parties involved face-to-face or on the phone after verifying phone numbers. Be especially wary of unexpected emails or messages pretending to be an escrow or mortgage company that directs you to urgently send money or your transaction will not go through.
Agents should watch for known real estate fraud scams.
A popular one includes fake emails that require you to change your password. After directing you to a fake website where you change your credentials, the cybercriminal will then use that information to log into your account and view all interactions that you have with your clients. When the appropriate time comes, those fake wire transfer emails are sent.
Trust your gut!
If it doesn’t feel right - don’t do it. It never hurts to thoroughly check things out. If someone is pressuring you to do something quickly it might be a good idea to step back and wonder why.
Communication is key. Confirming sources and instructions may take more time but can end up saving you a lot of money. Real estate agents should always let you know if they are going to send documents requiring an e-signature or want you to provide potentially sensitive information - and that you have the option to discuss these things on the phone or in person, as well.
Having a real estate agent you trust and can communicate with is an important part of any real estate relationship but don’t forget to remain watchful when using online tools like email, wire transfers and websites.
With a mortgage background stretching over the course of eight years and several years of experience in the Real Estate industry, Tyson Emery has proven that he gets the job done. His Real Estate career has allowed him the privilege to work with several clients, which has consistently landed him in the top one percent every year. As an owner along with Kirk Pugh and Becky Brown, KBT Realty has continued to grow by providing an environment to agents that concentrates on training and personal growth. Their philosophy is to figure out what you are good at and help you become great.