Buying a home is stressful enough, but now home buyers need to be aware of a new threat to their “happily ever after” story. Property buyers can be at risk of losing hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars if they’re not careful because hackers have now stepped into an unlikely area of finance: money transfers. Money Transfer Scams are now a real thing...and like any danger, knowing about the threat is half the battle.
Money Transfer Scams for Consumers
The scam begins much like other scams: with the bad guys getting access to your email account. A common consumer (non-business) attack starts when they then monitor your email and read the conversations between you and your real estate professionals -- in particular your title agents. And right around the time when a money transfer via a bank wire is due to be made, the scammers send a fake email message with different bank wire information.
The victim sees the email, assumes it is legitimately sent from their title agent, and then sends the money to the scammer’s bank account. Once the money lands in the scammer’s account, it is often immediately transferred to other bank accounts to make it harder to recover.
And just like that, with one little mistake, you’ve become a victim of a money transfer scam and handed over hundreds of thousands of dollars of your hard earned money to some stranger, and your dream of owning a home withers away.
Money Transfer Scams for Businesses
The same kind of scam happens to business owners and financial executives who might regularly transfer money via bank wire. According to Forbes.com, just as with the consumer scam, the bad guys will often hack into a vendor’s email to learn who their clients are. Then they send fake invoices or collection notices to real customers with payment instructions to wire money to the scammer’s banks.
Similarly, the scammers will hack into a business email account (generally one belonging to an employee responsible for paying bills by bank wire), find out what kinds of bills he or she usually pays, and then sends emails that look legitimate, but aren’t.
How To Avoid Becoming a Transfer Scam Victim
The FBI is well aware of these money transfer scams and is trying to publicize some basic measures to help you avoid becoming a victim. Their first bit of advice is to make a phone call to the receiving party prior to making any bank wire transfer. A quick call to your title officer or vendor can let you know if the bank account information is legitimate.
The FBI also advises that you change your email, bank and other passwords frequently. Use mismatched and uncommon characters to help make your passwords more difficult to guess.
While that is good advice, it is seldom good enough to prevent your email account from being hacked. Thousands of people click on phishing emails every day and voluntarily give up even the most complex passwords. Once that happens, unusual login activity to email and other accounts happens quickly.
The best way to protect yourself from any money transfer scams and any kind of hack or breach starts with full cyber security training for you and your business. Knowing what hacks, scams and phishing threats look like can help tremendously. You should also have full cyber security measures installed in your business network, including malware detection, two factor authentication, application whitelisting, behavior based protection, and much more.
For an analysis of your network’s current vulnerability, as well as an assessment of how to make your network truly secure, contact Digital Uppercut. We’re the experts in cyber security for small businesses like yours, whether internal or external. Every day, thousands of computers are attacked, networks infiltrated, resources stolen, and data encrypted and held for ransom. Don’t let you and your company become a victim. Contact Digital Uppercut today by calling 818-913-1335 or contact us today here.