PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The Better Business Bureau and the Federal Trade Commission are warning residents of a new scheme that targets home buyers as they’re preparing to close on their property.
Because of the new scam, the FTC said your bank account could be wiped out in minutes.
“If you’re in the very stressful situation of buying a new home, oftentimes you are moving so quickly in the process that you’re not sure exactly what to do or where to go – or who to write the check out to,” said Paula Fleming with the BBB. “And scam artists are taking advantage of this.”
According to the BBB and FTC, hackers have been breaking into some buyers’ and real estate agents’ email accounts to get information about upcoming real estate transactions.
Then, the hackers send emails to the home buyers posing as a real estate agent or someone from a title company.
The scammers instruct the home buyer to wire closing costs to a certain account – and people are falling for it because the emails look official.
“Oftentimes, people don’t realize they’ve been duped until they sit down to actually sign off on the paperwork,” Fleming said. “And they they’re asked for the check and they say we’ve already wired the money.”
According to Fleming, once you wire the money, you’re more than likely not going to get it back.
Here’s how to protect yourself:
- Don’t answer unsolicited emails – and never email financial information because email is not secure.
If you do receive an official-looking email and you have questions about it, your best bet is to pick up the phone and call your real estate agent. He or she will be able to quickly tell you if the email is legitimate.