How to Avoid Online Real Estate Scams

December 31, 2018

How to Avoid Online Real Estate Scams

Written by Elle Tomaszewski, http://www.styelled.com

Did you know that the real estate industry is the second-most targeted industry for scammers?
I bet you didn't! Scammers have been targeting real estate professionals in attempt to get money. They take real listings from realtors, steal the photos and create fake listings online to draw in consumers. The scam doesn't stop there!

One of the latest scams involves receiving an email from, what seems to be, a trusted sender. The big catch is that they try to influence the recipient to make wire transfers or they will try to get you to click a link. NEVER, I repeat, NEVER click a link that someone sends you in an email unless you KNOW the email address it came from. Even then, I would probably search the link on google before as a precautionary measure. If you are the victim of an email scam and you end up wiring money to someone -- the chances you'll get your money back are slim to none.

So how can you keep yourself and your money safe?
1. Verify all requested payment changes, the type of payment and where the payment is going.
If you were originally supposed to make a payment with a check deposit, a scammer will suggest a wire transfer. They might even want you to make changes to the recipient name and address. If you're the client of a real estate professional, check with your original contact by phone before making any type of payment online. 

2. Be aware of email communication. If they only want to communicate via email, that should be a red flag.
A scammer will take private contact information from real estate listing websites and use it to their advantage. They will especially target listings that are under contract in attempt to cash out on that transaction. Always establish a secondary form of communication with your realtor or real estate group other than email. Make sure you have a main contact that you can call.  

3. Set up security questions or code phrases with your realtor.
This way, you can always make sure you're talking to the right person. Email isn't the only way the scammers will target you. They will call you too and try to get you to give them personal information over the phone. Always verify who you're talking to.

4. What to do if you think you've been scammed...
Call your bank immediately to cancel any type of transaction you made. Contact your local police department to report the crime. You can also file the report and make a claim with www.ic3.gov and bec.ic3.gov. Lastly, inform your realtor of the situation so that they know as well!

Source: https://www.floridarealtors.org/NewsAndEvents/article.cfm?p=1&id=375057   

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