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Mortgage closing costs are phished for by scammers

Buying a home is exciting. You finally saved enough for the down payment, scheduled the move, and are dreaming of planting new roots alone or with your partner. Closing is right around the corner, unless you pass your mortgage closing fees to a scammer first.

The Federal Trade Commission and the National Association of Realtors® are warning home buyers about an email and money wiring scam. Hackers have been breaking into some consumers’ and real estate professionals’ email accounts to get information about upcoming real estate transactions. After figuring out the closing dates, the hacker sends an email to the buyer, posing as the real estate agent or title company. The bogus email says there has been a last minute change to the wiring instructions, and tells the buyer to wire their mortgage closing costs to a different account. But it’s the scammer’s account. If the buyer takes the bait, their bank account can be cleared out in a matter of minutes. That is usually money that the buyer never will see again.

If you are buying a home and get an email with money-wiring instructions, stop immediately. Email is really not a secure way to send financial information, and your real estate professional or title company. If it is a phishing email, rather report it to the FTC.

Some ideas to help you avoid phishing scams:

  • Never email financial information. It’s not secure.
  • If you have to submit financial information on the web, make sure the website URL starts with https://.
  • Do not click links in emails. Rather look it up yourself or check it from the employees.
  • Be really careful when opening attachments and downloading any files from emails, regardless of who sent them. These files may contain malware that can infect your computer.
  • Keep your browser, operating system and security software up to date at all times.