At our most recent CLE event I was asked to comment on current trends in the real estate market. Without missing a beat I responded before ever reaching the podium.
“Security threats, and more specifically Cybercrime. We are experiencing multiple attempts a day. ”
I went on to give the following example.
“Yesterday I was out of the office when my Controller called me to verify that I had forwarded an email requesting him to wire a $10,000 deposit to the seller’s attorney trust account. The email chain included had all of the relevant transaction information such as the property address, buyers’ and sellers’ name, realtors email address, attorneys email address and more. However there was one key problem. It wasn’t from me. Luckily, my Controller followed our company protocol to call to verify all monetary requests regardless of who sent the request. Otherwise we, and our clients, could have easily become victims. The perpetrator had spoofed my email address and had created a fake domain similar to our company domain. They had also set up an account with a major bank, at the same bank as the Sellers’ attorney, in order to pull off this scam. This is not the first time this year that we have detected an elaborate ruse designed to divert funds held in escrow. There is no way of knowing who involved in this particular transaction had their email account hacked, it could have been anyone involved, including the buyers or sellers.”
Protect Yourself and Your Business
Wiring verification is just one of the many procedures we have put in place. Another is that every staff member must call the sender before opening any attachments. Attachments can have attached viruses that, once opened, are able to access critical personal information.
The list of cyber threats is long and grows daily. Every facet of our business including realtors, brokers, attorneys, and title companies is vulnerable. We all handle, at some point in every transaction, client NPI (non public information). If this information falls into unauthorized hands it could threaten the security of the single transaction, the client’s personal information, and the very core of our business.
The following articles discuss the impact of this epidemic on our industry and give best practice solutions to protect yourself and your clients.
Protect Yourself From Cybercrime: 6 Best Practices To Implement Now Business Solutions | June 20, 2016
Bay Area Consumers Alerted to Outbreak of Hackers Stealing Mortgage Funds HousingWire | June 20, 2016
These Common Title Problems Can Snag Your Home Closing The Washington Post | June 20, 2016
Cybercrime Hitting Real Estate | RISMedia
Legal: You’re the Ideal Target for Cybercrime – realtor.org
If you have any questions, or would like to discuss this topic further, feel free to give me a call at 732.747.3615 ext. 115.