Thanks to the rise of useful technology and precautions due to COVID-19, more and more transactions are taking place online. For the real estate world, there have always been online transactions, but now more information is passed digitally. If you’re buying or selling a home, you not only have to consider all the expenses and paperwork that comes with real estate transactions, but you must ensure that your digital data is kept safe throughout the entire process. When buying or selling a home, you are presented with a unique set of fraud and cyber-security risks that many home buyers and sellers overlook. Protect yourself by understanding these real estate transaction risks and exercising caution.
Real Estate Transaction Risks
Cyber criminals are highly tempted by real estate transactions for several reasons:
It is rich with public information.
When you list a home online, it is designed to be seen by a lot of people. Unfortunately, this information can fall into the wrong hands. Listing details that are publicly available online show pictures of the house, list the floor plan, identity the listing agent, and key parties involved in the transaction such as legal and escrow teams. This information can then be used by criminals as they impersonate these individuals in an attempt to trick you into sending them money. If a home buyer or seller is not careful, they could be persuaded into these false, malicious transactions.
There are multiple unknown parties.
When you purchase a home, you will likely engage with the seller’s legal and/or escrow firms. In many cases, you are not familiar with these firms or the individuals who work for them. This presents a great opportunity for cyber criminals to send out false emails and obtain valuable transaction details. When relationships are new, it is a good idea to conduct a ‘call back’ to ensure that the person you are working with is genuine.
It has high monetary value.
Cyber criminals target high-value deals because they earn a greater return on their time and effort – if they are successful. Real estate transactions are often the most expensive transactions a person can make, so it is often a top priority for criminals to get this right.
Top Ways to Protect Yourself in Real Estate Transactions
Take technical precautions.
If you receive an email regarding a transaction, especially if it instructs you to transfer funds, then be on the lookout for potential red flags that could signal it is malicious. First, check the sender’s email address. Is their username genuine and is it a business-based address? Is every character correct? Is there anything out of place in the language they use? Call the sender to be sure they are who they say they are, and enable multifactor authentication for all email accounts used by you.
Before any funds leave your account, always pick up the phone to double-check the information associated with the transaction. Even one wrong digit in the account number could result in you sending the funds to someone else. Always call to get verbal confirmation. Ideally, speak with two separate people associated with the deal with whom you have spoken with before.
If you’re involved in real estate transactions, be sure to keep these cyber security tips in mind. With the right insurance, you can feel rest assured that you have the protection in place if the worst happens. If you would like to speak with a Massachusetts insurance expert from CAV Insurance Agency, call us on 781-237-4107. Remember that it only takes a few minutes to get an insurance quote from CAV Insurance.