Cybercrimes in Real Estate
Cybercrimes in Real Estate, today, no one is safe from crime; more worrisome is that those in real estate are now being targeted by cyber criminals. Whether you are selling a house or you are buying one, you need to be aware of the activities of cyber criminals and how they can ruin you financially.
In fact, the rate and number of cyber crime recorded in recent years has gotten enormous that it prompted the National Association of Realtors to issue a serious fraud alert so that all the participators in the real estate will watch out for these criminals.
The truth is that no one is protected from a cyber security breach – Individuals looking to buy their first house, retailers, realtors, Universities, business and even the governments are all potential victims of cyber thieves. Cyber crime has gotten so serious that it cost government’s office of Personal Management lost of over 5 million finger prints records. It has as well cost IRS the lost of confidential financial information on hundreds of thousands of tax payers.
What you should know today is that the real estate transactions are the next target of cyber thieves.
Why cyber criminals are targeting real estate?
A lot of money is involved in real estate and that’s the number one attraction for cyber thieves. They go where big money is changing hands. They know that they can breach your email or the email of your broker and steal important financial information. These criminals know that many brokers conduct their business from public places such as cafe or coffee shops. The hacker can easily get your email address from the marketing materials and for-sale flyers you share and try to hack into your account. They can hack into your own account and monitor what you, your broker, the escrow officer and your bank are doing and then find a way to divert the money for their own use.
Cyber criminals can get access to emails that you sent from free Wi-Fi locations or through email accounts that are not secure; they might as well clone your email account and insert themselves into discussion with your broker. In most cases, they target those in real estate, so that they can lay watch in the background waiting for an opportune time to swoop in.
They usually spring into action when it is time to wire your payment and they will contact you with similar email and instruct you to send the money to an account they control.
Cyber thieves are serious menace in real estate industry and this problem needs to be tackled with all the urgency it required. Protect your online financial activities today and avoid falling victim of cyber thieves.
Here are some 10 tips to help you reduce the risk of cyber attack in your real estate transactions
- Secure your computer with a very good firewall and anti-virus program. Don’t go for free or cheap ones. You will have more to lose if a hacker gains access to your banking information.
- Change your email account passwords frequently
- Use secure passwords: Your password should be long and make combination of capital letters, small letters, numbers and symbols
- Regularly clean out your email account
- Always talk with the person you are sending any fund to on phone before initiating any wire transfer.
- Don’t click on any suspicious link or reply to any email that you don’t trust.
- Avoid transmitting sensitive information through email; you can use any other secure means available.
- Avoid conducting business on unsecured Wi-Fi
- Talk regularly with your broker on phone
- Talk to your bank to know the measures you can use in protecting your account.
If you discover that fraudsters have infiltrated your online transaction, quickly call your banks and financial institutions to find out possible steps you can take to stop the transaction, contact your local police and all the parties who may be victims of the same attack to take appropriate action. Don’t hesitate to change your passwords and report the action to FBI through their internet Crime Complaint Center.
View this video from National Association of Realtors: