Buying or selling a house in this crazy market? Realtors say beware of one increasingly common scam

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala — With upwards of eight realtors working on one house in North Alabama, the market is moving swiftly. For that reason, scammers are taking advantage of people who may be getting overwhelmed with the buying process.

When you are buying or selling a home, you get plenty of emails with documents. Many requiring digital signatures from mortgage lenders, realtors and lawyers. The Huntsville Area Association of Realtors says they’ve seen an uptick in people falling victim to scammers who get into your email or computer.

The scammers sit back and study what you are doing. They would see all the emails regarding your attempt to buy a home. Then they pounce with an email or link that at a glance seems harmless, asking you to change banking or other application information.

“It can be thousands and thousands of dollars that people lose. Unfortunately, if they fall for that and don’t pick up the phone and call to verify if they got the instructions and where it came from…Unfortunately, you can lose money that way,” said Zelda Friedman, the Huntsville Area Association of Realtors President for 2021.

The Huntsville Area Association of Realtors says there’s also likely people pretending to be realtors or property managers. If you think you are being scammed, it’s not a bad idea to reach out to HAAR to let them know. If you lose money, you need to contact law enforcement first.

Given how fast the market is moving, if you have concerns about a realtor or have experienced something unethical, you can also submit a report to HAAR.

“People will look into it. There will be a panel of your peers that will look into it. Both parties can be there,” said Friedman.

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