At R+K Real Estate we take our clients' privacy very seriously. The dangers faced in our age of technology and electronic commerce have been waging an all-out assault on the world of real estate transactions. It is essential that both buyers and sellers understand the risks associated with buying and selling in the modern marketplace. E-mail, electronic signatures, money transfers and more all offer unique risks and challenges for clients, agents, title companies, lenders and others involved in the transfer of real estate.
Specifically, buyers and sellers should be aware that a real estate agent will NEVER ask for a client's bank information. That is the job of the lender and/or title company. But even then, no one should give out their personal financial info unless they are 100% certain that the other person is a) someone they know and trust in the transaction, such as their mortgage lender and b) actually that person.
An example might be that a fraudulent individual engages in a phishing scam by impersonating a principle, like an agent, in a real estate transaction. They will ask for a bank account number to give to the title company. As is often the case, there are suspicious elements to these emails like strange misspellings and grammar. Sometimes these clues can be missed by someone who's in a hurry, which is also common in our times. They respond to the email without taking the proper precautions, such as calling or meeting the person directly. By the time they realize that they've given out their non-public info, it's too late. Their bank account is empty.
Sometimes that money can be recovered if caught in time. Often though, it is gone forever. That might be someone's life savings. Their dreams. Gone. Don't let this happen to you. Stop, slow down, and confirm anything suspicious with the appropriate party. Call your agent or the title company and ask them if they sent that email. Only deliver financial information by secure means, like handing it directly to the personal requesting it. Always double-check and speak with your agent if you suspect anything is not right.
At R+K Real Estate Solutions, we provide an anti-fraud disclosure to all buyer and seller clients to review prior to any transaction. You can find that disclosure reproduced below. Always protect yourself!