Transferring digital information during real estate transactions makes it easy and convenient for everyone to do business. While financial institutions (like Capital Bank Home Loans) have sophisticated cybersecurity systems in place, everyone has to be continually vigilant against cyber-breaches.
As an individual you can be on alert to keep your personal information safe when getting a home loan. Here are some things you can do.
Real estate transactions involve a lot of personal information transferred digitally between you, your real estate agent, lenders, title companies, etc. Transmitting these by home and unsecured business email leaves information vulnerable to hackers.
Many providers along the home loan chain now use encrypted email to protect digital transactions. This layer of security keeps your personal information safe – hidden from prying hackers’ eyes that can “see” unprotected emails as they bounce from server to server. If hackers gain information about your identity or real estate transactions, they will try to use that information to their monetary advantage.
What you can do
Expect an encrypted message: At some point, you’ll likely receive email inviting you to login to a secured site to transact business related to your home loan. Encrypted email adds this extra level so that the information you send or receive isn’t floating around among other emails, vulnerable to hackers.
Verify: Before you click on the link in an email inviting you to a secure site, make sure you recognize the person or company named in the message. If not, call a trusted contact like your real estate agent or loan officer. Have them verify that the invitation you’ve received is legit.
Create a new password: Have your own complex password and ready to use when you log in. When you create a user name to log in to encrypted email, a suggested password often will be generated. Don’t click “accept” – not only because it could be a set-up, but also because that’s the last you’ll see of it! You will likely need to log in again to complete a couple more transactions, and you won’t be able to change any of your initial login information without new authentication steps.
Digital transference of personal information increases opportunity for cyber criminals – and some of that opportunity is netting a big payday from other people’s real estate transactions.
According to Forbes Real Estate Council, scams involving wire fraud often begin with “phishing” – an attempt by hackers to catch sensitive information by posing as a familiar person or company. An innocent response to a phony email helps a hacker gain access to the email server and information stored there – and illegally profit from it.
One of the biggest schemes in real estate transactions is for criminals to assume the email identity of a title company or settlement company. Posing as someone in that company, they send emails to clients with “updated” wire transfer information for home purchase funds – to the criminal’s bank account, not the title company’s bank.
What you can do
Verify all wiring instructions before transferring your money.
Speak to a real person at the legitimate place of business; call or visit the office to make sure you have the correct wiring instructions.
Learn more about what to look for to spot phishing emails. Google has a quiz you can take – you’ll be surprised by the trouble scammers go to, to look legit!
Keep Your Home Loan Experience a Positive One
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau provides information about protecting yourself from mortgage-related scams. Buying your new home is a very exciting time. Do your own due diligence to make sure cyber scammers don’t spoil it.