Who’s the target?
Adults who are in the process of purchasing a home.
How does it happen?
When you’re getting ready to close on a new home, there are a lot of moving parts to manage. As you work through this process, you may be receiving emails and phone calls from a handful of different agencies. Scammers take advantage of this barrage by intercepting or impersonating communications that have to do with your mortgage in an effort to steal from you.
These fraudsters use a tactic called phishing to hijack or spoof the email account of a real estate agent, financial representative, or legal counsel. The scammers will craft emails that look identical to the legitimate ones, telling you that the instructions for wiring your closing costs have changed at the last minute, and new instructions directing you to the hacker’s account. If you’re not paying close attention to the warning signs of this scam, you may end up wiring funds to the scammer instead of the legitimate recipient.
- They email you with new last-minute payment instructions
- The email has typos, or the formatting is not the same as previous emails with this person
- They emphasize the urgency of the situation, stressing that you need to act now
How can we stay safe?
- Take your time and read with a discerning eye when answering emails
- Don’t open emailed attachments from anyone, including a lender or real estate company unless you were specifically expecting it
- If an email seems suspicious, pick up the phone and call the sender at their verified phone number before acting
If you think you have been scammed:
- Contact all your financial institutions as soon as possible
- Contact FTC.gov
- Contact the Social Security Fraud Hotline (if applicable)
- Contact the DMV (if applicable)