Consumers have a lot to think about when they’re buying a home, including wiring large sums of money, and protecting themselves from fraudsters might be the last thing on their mind. The National Association of Realtors® and the Federal Trade Commission are encouraging consumers to stay vigilant, while reminding victims that they have options.
The most common wire scam works like this: hackers break into an email account of someone involved in the transaction. With that information in hand, they send a fraudulent email to the buyer, posing as a real estate professional.
The scammer then sends fraudulent wire transfer instructions to the buyer, allowing the criminal to potentially steal a down payment or other funds if the buyer follows through.
That’s bad news for the consumer, but NAR and the FTC are offering some tips on what to do when scammers strike. Among them:
- “If you wired money through your bank, ask them right away for a wire recall. If you used a money transfer company, like Western Union or MoneyGram, call their complaint lines immediately.”
- “Report your experience to the FTC and to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at ic3.gov. Report as soon as you can and give as much information as you can. If your bank asks for a police report, give them a copy of your report to ic3.gov.”
The key is to act quickly, or home buyers might find themselves out of luck. Additional tips on staying safe from mortgage fraud are available from NAR and the FTC.