As you work through the homebuying and loan application process, be aware that large financial transactions, such as a home purchase, can make you a target for fraud. It’s important to know how to protect yourself against identity theft and other types of fraud. Scammers may pose as third-party companies and attempt to appear as though they are involved with your transaction. Here are some recommendations to keep your information safe when transferring funds for a large real estate purchase:
Partner With A Trusted Professional
Work with a loan advisor you trust who is available to you and communicates consistently. He or she will be your go-to source to review and assess the legitimacy of any information you are unsure of.
Always use a secure site to upload and submit any confidential or sensitive documentation for your loan. Double check the website’s URL and make sure the domain matches the main site of the company you are trying to contact. TIP: Make sure the website has an “https:” tag in front of the address. This indicates that the site has a security certification that most illegitimate sites typically won’t bother with.
Look For Discrepancies
Review wire instructions carefully and look for anything out of the ordinary including any typos, grammatical errors, or suspicious names of banks. You would expect that the wire instructions should be with a bank or title company that is local to where you are closing on the home. If you see that the wire instructions are to a foreign bank, do not wire the money.
Be Cautious of Emails
Be cautious of emails that contain phrases such as “updated wiring instructions” requesting that you make a change to where you transfer funds. Your lender will never ask you to wire funds anywhere other than to the title company that’s handling your loan. If you’re suspicious of any emails received throughout the lending process, or if you have questions about the title company handling your loan, contact your loan advisor immediately.
Confirm By Phone
Take precautions to verify any information you’ve been given. Confirm payment instructions for a wire transfer by contacting your loan advisor or the title company directly by phone. Do not rely solely on the contact information presented within an email in case it may be fraudulent. Make sure that you know the person you’re calling at the settlement agent’s or title company’s office and verify that the number you’re calling is correct. If you are giving wire instructions for the sale of your home, confirm that the wire instructions are accurate for your bank and your account. Call your attorney, settlement agent or title company and verify that they received the accurate information you sent to them.
The most important thing to remember is to be attentive to the details in order to protect your information. By maintaining clear, consistent communication with your lender, you will have a trusted partner who can help you safely navigate the transaction and avoid the risk of fraud.