The Federal Trade Commission has issued a warning regarding an emerging phishing scam aimed at home buyers.
Hackers have been breaking into email accounts of consumers and real estate professionals, and harvesting relevant information about the transactions in which they are involved, including closing dates. At a strategically selected time, the hackers then send an official-looking email to the buyer stating that there has been a “last-minute change” to the wiring instructions, and providing new account information. If the buyer then follows these instructions, their bank account can be emptied in minutes, and the money is gone forever.
If you get an email with instructions to wire your down payment and other closing costs, even if it looks legitimate, STOP and follow these guidelines:
- Never email your bank account information to anyone
- Do not click any links in the email
- Do not open any attachments in the email
- Do not call any phone numbers in the email
What you should do instead is directly contact the closing agent at their published phone number to verify the instructions. Do not trust any contact information in the email, look up the company phone number on Google or on their website. Only initiate any transfer of funds when you have personally verified the instructions with the closing agent.