Wire Fraud: A Huge Problem Throughout The Real Estate Industry

Due to the rise of wire fraud that occurs daily, the term has grown to cover a wide range of criminal activity. At its core, wire fraud is any crime that is committed with the use of a computer or to computer data.

There is no federal law requiring real estate businesses to implement information security programs and that has led to real estate businesses having vulnerable systems. So how can the real estate industry protect itself?


Secure Your Deposit or Proceeds from Wire Fraud

• Wire fraud is common, especially in high-worth transactions like real estate, so prevention is key

• Always confirm emailed wire instructions by phone using contact information that DID NOT come with the emailed wire instructions.

• In general, it is a good idea to obtain the phone number of the escrow/title officer for your transaction at the beginning

• If there are any changes to the contacts provided, always independently confirm them before wiring any money


Use Secure WiFi

• Use secure, encrypted WiFi connections

• Be skeptical of unsecured, public WiFi. Consider using a secure proxy server


Limit Social Media

Do not provide your location information on social networks or check-in sites

• Criminals commonly find potential victims using this shared information


Use Email Cautiously

• Enable Two Factor Authentication (most email service providers offer this service, which typically can be found in your Profile Settings)

• Check access details regularly to confirm that no compromise has occurred

• Your email service may offer alerts to notify you of any unusual activity and you should activate this service, if it is available

• Think carefully before you click on an embedded link and select only those from a confirmed legitimate source or destination you recognize

• When in doubt, contact the sender to confirm the email is legitimate or delete the email entirely

• Avoid sending personal information in emails or texts

• If you need to send personal information by email, use an encrypted email service This is a time to be overly cautious


Keep Your Computer Security Up-to-Date

• Install pending security updates to your computer. Consider enabling automatic updates

• MacOS – Updates are installed using the Mac App Store or by choosing Software Update from the Apple menu

• Windows – Updates can be found in Settings. Select Update & Security and then Check for Updates


Install Virus Protection

• Ensure that your virus protection subscription is active and that updates are installed


Use Unique and Strong Passwords

• Consider using an encrypted password vault that stores and encrypts your passwords and other private information locally, and not in a pooled or group storage (which presents a rich target for potential attacks)


Actions to Take if You Suspect Fraudulent Activity

• Notify the Federal Bureau of Investigation Internet Crime Complaint Center at:

• Notify other parties involved in the transaction so they may take appropriate action and do not unknowingly facilitate any fraud

• Change your usernames and passwords to reduce the risk of further fraudulent activity