With cybercrimes constantly on the rise, how can we protect ourselves in a real estate transaction?
You are correct. We are unfortunately seeing a continued increase in the frequency of cyber crimes and the real estate industry is not exempt! It is unlikely that many of can get by in millennium America without your devices, so it is important that you be smart with your personal information. Below are a few suggestions to help protect yourself from cyber crime.
Do not share your social security number with your Realtor. We don’t need it! When you apply for a mortgage, give it directly to the mortgage company – ideally in person or over the phone. If you email documents, only do so over a secure and encrypted server that your lender has specifically set up for these purposes. When it’s time to close there will be forms to fill out. Again, your Realtor should not be the middleman. Give the completed documents containing your personal information directly to the closing agent.
If you wire funds or provide wire instructions, it is imperative that you verify all instructions verbally before the wire is initiated. We have had instances right here in Pittsburgh where cyber-criminals have monitored emails and emailed false wire instructions immediately before the wire is initiated, causing the funds to be wired to their own account. These funds are never recovered – hundreds of thousands of dollars have been lost. Therefore, if you are going to use a wire to either send or receive funds, be very careful and confirm everything verbally in advance. Also be sure if you are verifying over the phone that you independently verify the phone number you are calling so that you are certain that the individual you are speaking with really is who they claim to be.
And of course never do business (of any kind) unless you are using a secured WiFi. Most people have password protected their WiFi by now, but if you have not, move that to the top of your to do list!
REAL ESTATE SERVICES
401 Broad Street
Sewickley, PA 15143
Office: 412-741-2200 x238