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May 26, 2017

If you're planning to buy a house anytime soon, here's some information you can't afford to ignore. Buying a home should be a happy moment in your life. It can also expose you to a crime that can wipe you out financially. Phishing attacks have intruded into the closing process of many real estate transactions, making homebuyers a potential target for sophisticated cyber-criminals.

Hackers are using email accounts of homebuyers and the professionals they're working with to learn when the closing is scheduled. Then they send an alert telling the buyer to wire the closing money to an "updated" account. The new account is the phisher's and chances of recovering your money are slim.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

Never send financial information by email, text message or social media and don't trust any wiring instructions received by email.

  • Always contact the Escrow Agent directly before wiring any money.
  • Confirm all contact phone numbers with the Title Company website.
  • Do not use a phone number or other contact information from an email.
  • Don't respond directly to a website that's asking you to do something. Instead, go to the organization's website, copy the address at the top of the page, and paste it into your browser.
  • Look for "Https" in the address of the site. The letter "s" stands for "secure" Spoof sites can't use the "s" because they're fakes. If you don't see an "s" after "http" don't respond to the site.

Vigilance is your best defense. Be suspicious, especially of unsolicited communications. Take the time to understand what's being requested, and why - particularly if it's personal or financial information.

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