What You Need to Know About
Wire Fraud Prior to Applying For a Mortgage
An increased focus is being given to the topic of wire fraud these days ...
Rightfully so, as the number of stories of attempted and successful wire fraud and scams is on the rise. On ActiveRain, a social media and blogging community of real estate-related professionals I belong to, there have been multiple blogs written and discussions held on this timely topic.
It's good that ActiveRain members (and others) are shedding light on this matter. The sharing of information and warnings, amongst professionals and the public, serves to educate and alert as to the dangers of the scams ... and how to avoid them.
The education and attention are gravely needed. Consider the following staggering statistics I discovered while gathering info for this article:
- The FBI reported that during 2015 over $179 million had been stolen in fraudulent attacks over a 14-month period of time in the U.S.
- The Hill recently featured an article showcasing a recent FBI report stating that wire fraud at title companies grew 480% during the year of 2016
- According to an FS-ISAC survey, the preferred money movement method of choice with 76% of fraud attempts was wire transfers
Perpetrators of this type of fraud often utilize emails to deceive email recipients ...
Fraudulent links, accompanied by instructions for wiring of funds or requests for sensitive account information, are often contained within the emails received. When the links are "clicked" upon, money or account information is re-routed to a scammer.
Borrowers and professionals alike must remain alert and aware of email scams, as emails and email systems can also be "hijacked". Email scams ... and the instructions, domain names, logos, directions, and names within them ... can appear quite legitimate and professional. Close careful scrutiny must always be conducted.
So what is the best defense for avoiding these scams?
Borrowers (and professionals) should familiarize themselves with ... then enact ... the proactive preventative measures available to them while navigating the processing of their home loan (and afterward):
- Never send personal information (social security number, birthdates, etc.) over an unprotected email server
- Use the safe secure encrypted email/system/account provided to you by your lending institution for sharing of personal info (If none is provided, re-think your choice of professional)
- Make sure all security systems, browsers, software on your personal computer are up to date
- If you use your cell phone to conduct communications regarding your mortgage processing or banking, take these precautionary measures as well:
- Place a lock on your phone. Establish a secure Password
- Routinely perform updates for your cell's operating system
- Remove old, unused apps on your phone, as they are highly susceptible to hacking. At minimum, update to the latest version of your app
- Do not use public Wi-Fi, especially when accessing banking accounts, credit, etc.
- Use/install a Virtual Private Network (VPN), if not already installed on your phone
- Delete your browsing history, cache, and cookies regularly
- Don't leave your phone unattended ... anywhere!
- Only communicate with firms and professionals that have secured systems (Clue: Look for URLs that begin with https) or email servers
- Be aware of and protect against "Phishing", "Vishing", and "SMishing" attempts
- Be wary of attachments, downloads, etc. contained within emails. Only "click" and download those attachments received from protected secure known systems
- Borrowers need to secure all their accounts. Do NOT use simple passwords or re-use the same passwords on multiple sites/services
- Use reliable, well-protected title companies for your real estate transaction
- Prior to wiring funds, call your Mortgage Originator ... or a previously verified number to confirm the directions and accuracy of any info received. Never proceed until this verification is completed.
Stay safe and protected by educating yourself thoroughly regarding wire fraud. Remain vigilant throughout your entire mortgage processing and Closing.
By doing so you avoid making yourself a victim ... and you help shut scammers down ...
I'm easily found at:
Mortgage Originator - NMLS #216987 - IL Lic. #031.0006220 - WI License 216987
American Portfolio Mortgage Corp.
Cell or Text: 708.921.6331
Gene Mundt, Mortgage Originator, an Originator with 40 years of mortgage experience, will offer you exemplary mortgage service and advice when seeking: Conventional, FHA, VA, Jumbo, USDA, and Portfolio Loans in Chicago and the greater Chicagoland region, including: The Lincoln-Way Area, Will County, (New Lenox, Frankfort, Mokena, Manhattan, Joliet, Shorewood, Crest Hill, Plainfield, Bolingbrook, Romeoville, Naperville, etc.), DuPage County, the City of Chicago, Cook County, and elsewhere within IL & WI.
Referrals are Greatly Appreciated and Welcomed!