Protect yourself from wire fraud e-mail scams!
In no instance will changes to your wire authorization be made based on email correspondence alone.
Real estate settlement service providers and our clients are relentlessly targeted by fraudsters who try to scam parties out of their documents and information in order to steal their money. Please be aware that there are many schemes related to wiring funds for real estate transactions. Commerce Title communicates with buyers and sellers in a very specific and certain fashion when it comes to wire transactions. Always verify with Commerce Title through an established phone line, or with your lender or your Realtor before sending a wire transfer! The list of scams grows daily so arm yourself with information about some of the common strategies scammers use so you can better protect yourself.
When in doubt, pick up the phone and give us a call. 225-769-8800 for Perkins, 225-292-9130 for Bluebonnet, and 225-673-2102 for Prairieville.
The two main ways fraudsters position themselves to take your money are by stealing your devices and stealing your login credentials.
Protect your devices
The first thing to be aware of is your mobile device. Phones and tablets are huge theft targets not only for their street value but for the information thieves can glean from them. Don’t let your smartphone make you vulnerable. Instead, password protect your device, be wary of what you send via your phone, and don’t click on suspicious emails.
1. Password protect your device
One of the great conveniences of mobile devices is the fact you can stay logged on to your email account. Unfortunately if your smartphone is stolen, this means the thief can also access your email. Be sure to secure the device by locking the screen requiring you to provide a fingerprint or a pass code to access your phone.
2. Do not send non–public information from your mobile device
In order to complete your transaction, we will need to collect personal information from you. If you get an email requesting social security numbers, wiring information and other sensitive data from an address you do not recognize, pick up the phone and call to confirm that it was a trusted party with a valid interest in this information before giving any access to your data. Then, use encrypted email if you must provide the information online.
3. Do not open or click on links in suspicious emails
It is not as easy to identify a suspicious email received on a smart phone. Before opening any emails, look at the email address or name of the sender. If you do not recognize it consider waiting until you are working on your desktop before opening. If you do open the email and it contains a link in the body of the email – stop. Take a second look to confirm if the email has come from a trusted source. Do not click on a link if you do not know who the sender is.
Protect your information
Even more common than physically stealing devices is “phishing” – attempts by thieves to steal your username, password, and other login credentials via online means. Once a hacker has access to your account, they can intercept emails and send out new ones posing as you online. Phishing emails often have tell-tale signs they are fraudulent. Become familiar with the common signs of phishing attempts.
1. The email looks... strange
- The “To:” line may be blank. This is because they are sending their request for you to enter your username and password to hundreds of people at once. A legitimate company with a legitimate need for you to log in will address correspondence to you plainly.
- Grammatical errors may be abundant.
- “Urgency” is a theme. Requests that require you to act immediately are a red flag. Think carefully before you click on any links. What need would Target, CVS, or Facebook have for example that would require you to log in RIGHT NOW?
- The subject line of the email can also be a clue to phishing emails; especially if the subject references transactions that do not exist or the context of the email is out of character with your normal correspondence.
2. The email has digital markers of a scam
Now it is time to get technical. Some emails may be slick and look legitimate, but there will still be signs of a scam.
- Anytime you are asked to click on a link in an email, you should first place your cursor over the link. Do not click on the link. Hovering your mouse cursor over the clickable link will make the URL, or web address, show up. If the URL does not match up with the sender’s information, do not click on the link. For example, www.expeditie-verify.cct/eaXy pops up, but the sender’s email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Legitimate websites use increased security in order to make it difficult to intercept critical information, such as credit card numbers, when those are communicated on the Internet. You can verify the site is secure by observing the Web address, which will begin with “https://”. The “s” after http stands for secure.
- Be aware of URLs that include the @ sign. Browsers ignore anything in a URL which comes before the @ sign.
- Finally, see where the message really originated from. If the “From” information does not match the email address of the sender or the company being represented in the email, it usually means the message did not truly come from that individual or company.
The bottom line is, even if an email seems to be coming from someone you trust, if it looks and feels different than what you are used to seeing from that sender, it is best to go with your gut feeling, ignore the message, and pick up the phone. This could save you a great heartache.