You’ve finally found that perfect house in the part of town you’ve been wanting to live in for years. Now you’re ready to close the deal.
But just before you finish closing, you get an email claiming to be from your real estate agent. It says there’s a last-minute change to the money-wiring instructions. So you follow the email and wire the money, but it never makes it to the bank. The email is, as it turns out, as scam.
This is a new way that hackers are stealing money. They access email accounts by snagging passwords through public Wi-Fi and via email solicitations that appear to be from senders you know.
These devious scammers will go through email accounts, searching for emails about home sales and closings. When they find what they’re looking for, they’ll send consumers an email posing as their real estate pro, attorney, or escrow officer. The email includes wiring instructions linked to a fraudulent account.
Here’s how to prevent a hacker from running away with your home before you even have a chance to buy it:
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 info by email either.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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