Has Your Real Estate Transaction Been Hacked?

Unless you live in a cave without wifi, you’ve probably heard about cybercrime. When you think of cybercrime, you may think of “phishing” emails that claim you’ve won millions of dollars (but first, supply your SSN and bank routing number, please . . .). Or you may think of a room full of sun-starved tech-heads hacking into government databases and draining corporations of billions of dollars. The truth is that cybercrime is a risk to everyone, and you may not always see it coming.

Cybercrime Hits Real Estate

hacked computerThe real estate industry is a prime target for cybercriminals, and it’s one hackers have been capitalizing on for years. Real estate transactions include the transfer of large sums of money, so it’s a natural target for hackers. Because they track your online presence, their schemes often seem like legitimate emails. Most often homebuyers will receive an email that appears legitimate—one that may appear to originate from a legitimate source, like a bank or real estate agent—that informs the buyer about a last-minute change to their wiring instructions. If the homeowner falls for the scam, the funds are usually irretrievable.

Other real estate phishing scams involve silently hacking into email accounts to retrieve sensitive banking information, or sending an attachment from an apparently legitimate source that, once opened, installs malware to track keystrokes and hack passwords.

How to Protect Your Assets from Digital Fraud

  • Change your privacy settings on social media to prevent strangers from accessing personal details about your life.
  • Update your operating system regularly, since these updates often include firewalls against new cybersecurity breaches.
  • If you receive an email about changes to your closing or mortgage payments, contact your real estate agent or financial institution prior to wiring any funds.
  • Whenever possible, avoid sending sensitive information digitally.
  • Use complex passwords and update them regularly. When possible, enable 2-step verification.
  • Don’t forget about phones and tablets. These days phones are essentially mini computers, and they’re just as easily hacked as a desktop or laptop.

To learn more about how to protect your real estate transaction from cybercrime, contact The Premier Group in Woodstock.