BOULDER– Congratulations! You’re in the final stages of purchasing a home! After you’ve made it through rounds of negotiations and paperwork, your Realtor or lender gives you a stack of papers known as the title commitment, which is essentially the title company’s promise to issue a title insurance policy for the property. Before closing the deal, however, the title company requires some sort of certified funds (either a cashier’s/certified check or wire transfer) to ensure that all monies will be received upon closing. While it may be tempting to ignore the details of this document, send a quick wire transfer, and celebrate your new home, pay close attention to the source of the wire. Here’s why.
Wire transfer fraud is on the rise. This is where a scammer intercepts an email between a Realtor, lender, and/or title company and provides false wire instructions for the buyer, who then sends the wire to an imposter. Once the funds have been sent, they typically go offshore, leaving the buyer out of the money and unable to move forward with the deal in most cases. There is limited insurance or protection in a situation like this, so I can’t stress enough how important it is to triple check the source before sending a wire.
It can be tough to spot a scam right off the bat. Here are some things to pay attention to:
Confirm the source. Prior to wiring funds, contact the intended recipient of the wire, and confirm that the wire information is accurate.
Double-check email addresses and phone numbers. Always call and verify the phone number listed in the email for the intended recipient of the wire. Look carefully at the email address provided, as well. Scammers often use addresses that look nearly identical to those used by actual title companies or businesses, such as [email protected]
instead of [email protected]. Be on the lookout for small changes in email addresses that, at first glance, look legitimate.
When in doubt, ask your realtor, lender, or title company. Listen to your gut on this one. If anything seems off or you’re being asked to rush and send the funds quickly, that’s a red flag.
To protect against future fraud, more title companies are encrypting wire instructions or sending the instructions to the buyer directly, instead of going through the realtor or lender.
Wire transfers are a permanent part of real estate; they’re not going anywhere. They’re quick and relatively easy, and they have been used for this purpose for years. They can be risky, however. Taking a few extra precautionary steps can save you immense energy (and tens of thousands of dollars) in the long run. If anything seems suspicious, ask your Realtor or lender to
Michaela Phillips is the Vice President of Mortgage Lending at Guaranteed Rate, Inc., the 8th largest retail mortgage company in the country. Since entering the mortgage industry in 1994, she’s consistently been a top producer. Being a VP at Guaranteed Rate offers many advantages to her and her clients including unparalleled customer service, efficiency, and most importantly competitive rates. Contact Michaela at 303.579.5517 or via e-mail at [email protected]. NMLS: 312874.