As wiring funds for closing has become a common practice in our industry, so have attacks attempting to steal those funds. The addition of more cyber-related closing procedures, designed to minimize human contact to keep us healthy, may actually be putting your clients’ finances at risk. National Mortgage News recently reported attempts to steal or divert funds wired for closing have risen 65% since mid-March, as the industry shifted to remote work due to COVID-19. The increase is not surprising given that fraudsters rely on cyber communication and panic to come between your clients and their wallets.
The days leading up to closing are often a blur of activity for buyers. They are packing, cleaning and transferring utilities, all while working full-time and possibly caring for family members. These hectic schedules can often lower a buyer’s guard when an urgent email arrives detailing a change in wiring instructions that may seem routine. Buyers should know changes to wiring instructions are rare and anything but routine. Help your clients guard their hard-earned savings with these three tips:
- Take a good look at the sender’s email address. Fraudsters are designing emails that look legitimate, as if they are coming from the closing agent, realtor or lender. Review the email addresses carefully. Although they may look correct at first glance, they are usually slightly different and designed to lull the buyer into a false sense of security.
- Look for spelling or grammatical errors. It isn’t a guarantee that a fraudulent email will have typos, but many do.
- Always verbally verify any wiring instruction changes before taking any action. Buyers should contact the closing agent or lender to verify any wiring instructions using the phone numbers and representatives they have been working with throughout the buying process. Never use the phone number or links included in the email.
Your buyer’s greatest weapon against fraud is knowledge. Make sure your clients are in contact with the closing agent and are fully aware of the closing procedures and expectations leading up to and at closing to protect against wire fraud.
For more tips to prevent fraud, visit Ameris Bank’s financial advice site.
By: Marlene Sheard
Marlene is a mortgage marketing representative for Ameris Bank and previous sales and marketing president for her local Home Builders Association. She enjoys sharing her experiences for the buying, selling, and financing of homes.
The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.