Mortgage Closing Costs Could Be Intercepted By Scammers

(Photo by Tim Boyle/Getty Images)

June was National Home Ownership Month, but that does not mean scammers have moved on from trying to phish your closing costs and any other money you have linked to your mortgage account!

Home buyers should be aware of an email and wiring scam they could be a victim of when it comes time to close on that perfect house. Hackers have been breaking into consumer and real estate agents’ personal accounts to get information on upcoming real estate transactions.

Upon finding out the closing date, the hackers will send an email to the buyer, posing as the real estate agent or company. The fraudulent email will state that there has been a last-minute change to the wiring instructions, and tells the buyer to wire closing costs to a different account, which is actually the scammer’s account.

If the buyer takes the bait, in a matter of minutes, the money for the closing costs is cleared out, as well as any additional money in the account. Often times, this money is never recovered and the buyer is left in a bind.

If you are buying a home and receive an email close to your closing date with money wiring instructions, do not respond! Email is not a secure way to provide financial information, and your real estate agent and company should be aware of that.

How to Spot a Phishing Scam:

  1. Don’t believe what you see. Just because an email looks real, doesn’t mean it is. Scammers can fake anything from a company logo to the “Sent” email address.
  2. Be cautious of generic emails. Scammers try to cast a wide net by including little or no specific information in their fake emails. Be especially wary of messages you have not subscribed to or companies you have never done business with in the past.
  3. Consider how the organization normally contacts you. If an organization normally reaches you by mail, be suspicious if you suddenly start receiving emails or text messages without ever opting in to the new communications.
  4. Be wary of unexpected emails that contain links or attachments. Do not click on links or open files in unfamiliar emails.
  5. Call a trusted source. Call your Mortgage Company or real estate agent to confirm the message was legitimate.

Source: BBB Northern Alabama and FTC.gov

For more details, check out Scammers Phish for Mortgage Closing Costs and Protect Your Mortgage Closing From Scammers.

BBB Press Release: Mortgage Closing Costs Could Be Intercepted By Scammers

To report a scam, call your BBB at 256-533-1640 or go to the BBB Scam Tracker. To find trustworthy businesses, visit bbb.org.