Since computers became a commonplace in business in the 1980’s, security and safety measures have been crucial in order to keep intellectual property protected.
In today’s age, with the use of many different mobile devices and technology platforms, scammers have a variety of ways to steal personal information. In particular, scammers have turned their sights on real estate fraud through online transactions, which has resulted in initiatives by Realtors® to educate members on hacking and wire fraud threats.
With today being National Computer Safety Day, below is a checklist of ways real estate professionals can stay cyber secure during transactions and how to ward off hackers:
- Communicate with clients before a transaction happens about the dangers of emailed wiring information.
- Consider a standard warning notice for clients to sign.
- Tell buyers to call the intended recipients of wired funds and independently verify the phone number before calling.
- Secure email accounts with good passwords, preferably one that includes a phrase, and never one that is easily guessable such as “password.”
- Monitor “junk mail” and “sent mail” email folders for irregularities, such as messages being forwarded automatically.
- Purge emails and do not use inboxes as a “filing cabinet,” especially for emails with personally identifiable information.
- Only do business over secured Wi-Fi.
Realtors® and consumers are encouraged to remain vigilant, especially when providing payment or their billing details to a website. Just as important, consumers and Realtors® can flag suspicious-looking real estate websites, letters, and other materials for the National Association of Realtors® by emailing them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Refer to NAR’s vast toolkit for getting educated and staying cyber secure.