Fight Fraud, Don’t Fear it
Real estate fraud is terrifying. Even some of the best in the business get duped, like Barbara Corcoran and her staff. Consumers are trusting professionals in the industry to take care of them and the buying and selling of their largest assets, so we have to be prepared for deceit.
We receive phishing emails all of the time and alert our staff to not respond as soon as we can. We even invited several cyber security experts to speak at our company and ensure our team is aware and equipped to detect scams immediately on their own. Even still, fraud in real estate is something we all have to continue to be vigilant about and continue to advance the industry to make it more difficult for cyber criminals to win.
Quick Tips to Avoid Wire Fraud
- Don’t open any links you don’t recognize
- Don’t reply to phishing emails
- Always call and confirm with parties involved before sending funds
- Avoid downloading suspicious files that could contain malware
- Protect your computer and other devices with anti-malware software
- Be careful about where you access sensitive information
Past phishing emails, fraudsters are posing as buyers, sellers, or even other real estate professionals and go through the process until they acquire the funds they desire and run off with thousands of dollars! Not only are these scams affecting clients, but everyday real estate professionals as well, like in the case of an escrow officer in Tacoma, Washington. Thankfully the team noticed irregularities with the $101,380.00 check and were able to stop the process in its tracks. This is only one story of many that has inspired us to make a change in the money transfer process in the real estate industry.
Physical paper checks can be easily altered or forged while also requiring consumers to go to a bank to retrieve them. Yes, check fraud is a thing! Unfortunately, wires are just as tedious with high fraud risk involved as well as associated bank fees. Since fraud tends to occur at times where money is being transferred, whether it’s an earnest money deposit or other closing costs, it’s time we look outside of old school methods and embrace technology to keep our personal information and money safe.
Revolutionary Technology in Real Estate
Automated Clearing House (ACH) transactions are becoming the new normal in regular transactions. How often do you find yourself paying a friend through Venmo or buying something online via Paypal? It’s easy, fast, secure, and right at your fingertips, so why aren’t we using this method for real estate transactions? Currently, platforms like these only allow for a certain dollar amount to be transferred at a time and real estate transactions usually surpass these but think about how many times a platform of these capabilities would’ve been beneficial in the past.
Fortunately, new ACH platforms, like paymints.io are arising that allow larger sums to be transferred making it ideal, safe, and convenient for earnest money deposits, cash-to-close for refinances, and more. We built Paymints.io to be as secure as a top-tiered bank and using the same high level of encryption, strong ID verification, and transaction tracking. This process ensures that all parties involved in a money transfer are exactly who they say they are and that the money gets to where it is supposed to go.
The paymints.io solution takes a comprehensive approach to solving wire and check fraud for both incoming transfers for earnest money deposits and cash to close as well as for disbursements to sellers, homeowners, real estate agents, mortgage brokers, real estate attorneys, and other vendors who are paid at closing traditionally with wires and checks. The disbursement engine allows recipients to receive their funds securely and digitally with real-time tracking capabilities.
Preventing real estate fraud, or any other fraud, starts with you, and those on your team. By following some simple, logical cyber security protocols, always being alert of links you open, as well as using advanced and secure technology to further minimize the risk of fraud, you can ensure safe transactions for your organization and your clients. Have you had any fraudulent experiences within your company?