When helping a client buy a house, the last thing you want is for the buyer or seller to fall victim to wire fraud. Unfortunately, the large amounts of money involved in real estate transactions make them a prime target for this type of scam.
Luckily, there are plenty of steps you can take to help protect your clients from wire fraud.
Taking precautions like securing your network, ensuring everyone involved in the process is knowledgeable about the techniques fraudsters use, and using a service like CertifID can seriously reduce your chances of falling victim to this kind of scam.
Read more about our wire fraud protection techniques — including how you can use CertifID to guarantee transactions up to $1 million — in the post below.
Understand How Wire Fraud Happens
The first wire fraud prevention tactic you should use is merely ensuring you are knowledgeable about the techniques criminals use to commit this kind of scam. By gaining a good understanding of how wire fraud happens, you will be able to take steps to protect both your systems and your clients from fraudsters.
The bad news is there are a ton of ways criminals can take advantage of a system to try to steal your money.
The good news is we have a massive list of them right here.
Ensure Your Hardware is Secure
Now you know how wire fraud happens, you can start taking steps to protect yourself.
The first thing to do is make sure your network is hard for hackers to infiltrate. If they can’t infiltrate your network, they will find it harder to gain access to the type of information necessary to commit wire fraud.
Upgraded security hardware is the best way to make things difficult for criminals. This can include using a perimeter security system that has features like firewalls, antivirus scanning, and geolocation blocking.
At CertifID, we think hardware is the first pillar of wire fraud protection. You can read more about securing your network with hardware in this blog post.
Use Strong (and up to Date) Malware Protection
Hackers can use viruses and malware to access your system and steal data. One way you can avoid this is by checking you use up to date and secure malware protection throughout your network.
It only takes one weak link to allow a virus into your network. Ensure protection is installed on all your employee’s computers. You should also run frequent checks to establish that everything is clean and use malware protection on your domain name and your email software.
Keep all Programs up to Date
A sure-fire way to limit the number of weaknesses on your network is to keep all your programs and firmware up to date.
As hackers are continually coming up with more advanced ways to break into systems, software providers have to update their programs to deal with these threats. This means if you aren’t using the latest version of an application, you may be using an edition that has known vulnerabilities.
You know who loves known vulnerabilities?
Make Everyone in Your Title Agency Use a Strong Password
As well as taking advantage of weak points in your hardware and software, hackers can get access to the type of data that is required for wire fraud by targeting weak passwords.
Here are two common ways hackers do this:
- Brute force password attacks use automated software to rapidly try a large number of random passwords until the program guesses the correct one.
- Password spray attacks gain access to systems by using common passwords on a large number of IDs until a user is compromised.
In both types of attack, weaker passwords are at risk of being unlocked. That’s why it is important to use strong (and unique) passwords on all accounts. Also, if you assign default passwords to new members of staff, ensure that they change the password as soon as possible as these are especially vulnerable to spray attacks.
Limit Access to Information, Even Within Your Organization
One of the most worrying cases on our list of 2017 wire fraud cases was one where a judge was scammed out of over $1 million.
In this case, a real estate attorney — with knowledge of the deal — alleged that the scam was likely to have been committed by someone related to the transaction. Potentially, originating even from the bank or the law firm involved in the deal.
While this doesn’t appear to have ever been proven, it does still highlight how easy it would be for someone with malicious motives related to the case to scam a client. Ensure that only people you trust have access to the crucial details.
Educate Clients About Wire Fraud and Your Process
One of the ways fraudsters can have success is through phishing. This is when they send emails that claim to be from a trusted source asking for something from the recipient.
For example, in this case in Texas, $52,660.57 was stolen when thieves sent an email to a buyer claiming to be from the title company. The email said the company had sent the wrong wire instructions and gave new — incorrect — wiring details. Unfortunately, the buyer believed the email and sent the money to the fraudster’s account.
The problem here was that the client likely didn’t know how wire fraud can happen, or the company’s process. By educating your clients about both, they will be more likely to know when something looks suspicious and be able to flag it.
Use CertifID to Protect From Wire Fraud and Guarantee Your Transactions
Essentially, all the tips above are there to help guarantee that when you wire money, you are sending it to the correct person, not a fraudster.
With this in mind, the final step to ensure you are sending money to the correct party is to use CertifID to authenticate the transaction.
Our service confirms the identity of all parties in a wire transfer and verifies that the wiring information is correct. This means you can wire money in full confidence knowing that you are sending it to the correct party. We also give you peace of mind by guaranteeing all transactions up to $1 million.
If you regularly make wire transfers and want the extra peace of mind offered by our service, then sign up for a free trial.