As much as I wish I could say that when it comes to dealing with money and real estate every part of the transactions are 100% safe that just isn’t the truth anymore. In the last couple of years, especially with the rise of real estate doing so well, we have seen a rise in wiring fraud unfortunately and many fraudsters targeting real estate transactions and clients. Because there is a lot of money being moved around, fraudsters see real estate transactions as an easy place to confuse clients and have money wired to made up banks and title companies. Because of these fraudsters, I are keeping a close eye on every deal I do as well as my company Kentwood working twice as hard to make sure this doesn’t happen to any of our clients.
To take further steps, I am working to educate my clients on how to handle any situation they might find themselves in in regards to their finances and real estate. I think it is imperative to make sure every client understands that unless directed directly by me or someone on my team to take some sort of action like sending money or cutting a check, they should never take action without consulting with me first. Below are a few pointers I have come up with as guidelines for my clients to work off of when it comes to handling their money during our real estate transactions:
1. No email is secure not even if it's encrypted. Fraudsters can intercept an email and wiring instructions can be changed. If you get an email and do not feel it is correct or information seems fishy, contact me directly.
2. We have been targeted in several states by fraudsters who are convincing clients to change where their wire goes at the tail end of a transaction.
3. Thieves are calling the buyer and say that they are from the title company or lender. It’s getting very serious, and we are increasingly concerned for the safety of our clients and their money transfers.
4. One of the most important actions I am taking to help prevent wire fraud is by having sincere conversations with my clients about the subject. We have all heard the horror stories, and it's up to me to inform my clients that people are going to great lengths to steal their money. My clients should be suspicious of anyone they don’t know attempting to provide instructions on where to wire money. This is becoming very serious and the thieves are getting bold and creative!
5. To help protect us as agents the brokerage I work for Kentwood City Properties has implemented a new Wire Fraud disclosure. We have started to use this disclosure and it is required for all my closing files.
These are just a few precautions I want my clients to take as we work on closing real estate deals together. Like I said, never be afraid to reach out to me or if you are working with another real estate agent, reaching out to them. We are here for a reason, to help guide you throughout this process and make sure to do our best to keep you safe from the day your offer is accepted until the day you move in.