You’re in the final stages of closing on a home and receive a last-minute email telling you that plans have changed and to wire the money to a different account.
What should you do?
Don’t send anything without first verifying that the email is real or you could lose your down payment and closing money – and the home you wanted to buy.
A growing scam that targets homebuyers, real estate professionals and title companies can be devastating to consumers because it all seems so real. That’s because sophisticated hackers have compromised an email account of someone involved in the process so they know exactly when to strike.
Here are some things you should do to avoid becoming a victim because once you wire those thousands of dollars, the money can be difficult or impossible to recover:
• If you get an email like this don’t transfer a penny without verifying its authenticity. Call your real estate or title agent and speak to them directly. Call only a number that you know is theirs, not anything listed in the email.
• Ask them about the change and explain why you’re calling.
• You can also call your financial institution and ask it to check for warning signs in the instructions.
If you’re concerned that you might be a victim, follow these suggestions from experts:
• Immediately call the financial institution you sent the wire from and ask for a wire recall. The danger here is that the person receiving the wire might already have removed the deposited funds.
• Report the incident to law enforcement, including the FBI and your state Attorney General’s office.
You’ve worked hard to save and buy a house, so take your time to verify any instruction and don’t let a crook ruin that dream.