Real estate scams are on the rise - but there are ways to protect yourself.
Real estate has been experiencing an uptick in cyber scams recently, and unfortunately it is something that can happen to anyone. Our increase in technological features and systems has made real estate transactions more efficient, seamless, and simpler overall – but it has also created a risk to businesses and users.
Real estate professionals and their clients are vulnerable to cybercriminals whenever business is conducted online. In the past year alone, $969 million has been stolen from buyers, with the use of escrow scams. While this number is certainly extraordinary, the sad truth is that it is only expected to grow.
Finley Maxson, senior counsel of the National Association of Realtors, and Martin Hellmer, FBI supervisory special agent, claim that “awareness, education, and preparedness” are the three key features in keeping your business and clients safe from cyber-attacks.
According to Maxson and Hellmer, there are a few tips to keep in mind when running business virtually:
1. Update your software.
Yes, it’s a pain to do, and no one likes waiting for their devices to update. But neglecting to do so will give criminals the opportunity to strike by taking advantage of security flaws.
2. Use stronger passwords.
Maxson and Hellmer suggest using passwords that are at least 10 characters long and taking advantage of two-factor authentication. Unfortunately, by using your pet’s name or your birthday to set every password, you’re making yourself an easy target (no matter how easy it is for you to remember.) It is a breeze for scammers to get through commonly-used passwords such as these.
3. Be aware of common scams.
Phishing emails are among the most common, and people tend to fall for them easily. Criminals will falsely address their emails as renowned businesses and conduct escrow scams, referral scams, or Docusign scams. Never reply to an email that you are unsure about, and never click on a link or attachment that is sent to you out of the blue, no matter how professional the email may seem.