Our team and our clients have experienced scams and fraud firsthand in the past year, which makes January the perfect time to share helpful tips for protecting yourself- fraud free in 2023!
#1 Scammers pretend to be a person or company you know- and they’re pushy about it!
They will call you or text you with an urgent matter pretending to be someone important. In our own organization, we have fraudsters texting or Google Chatting our agents, saying “Hi, this is ________ from Keller Williams. I’m in a meeting right now, but I need your help- are you busy?” Once they receive a response, they say that they need help purchasing gift cards for something/someone, and ask you to help with it. They’re good at pretending, and we’ve had agents fall for it. Tips for this scenario?
-Have everyone important SAVED in your phone and email contacts. Your boss, your best friend, the school principal… it’s likely that they change their contact info without telling everyone about it. The fraudster that contacted our agents created an email address that was “First Name.Last Name.kw @ gmail.com” , which is not how our company emails are formatted. They also created local phone numbers and texted, which leads me to my next point…
-If you’re in doubt, CALL THEM. If you have their phone number or email saved, give them a call to ask if they really do need your help.
#2 There is either something wrong, or you’ve won something, and you need to act NOW
There might be something wrong with your bank accounts, you owe the IRS money, someone in your family is in trouble, or maybe you won a prize, but have to pay a fee to get it. These are some of the most encountered scenarios (besides contacting you about your car’s extended warranty!). If you get those calls, there’s nothing wrong with hanging up, and calling the institution back. Call your bank’s real number, call the family member in trouble, etc. and confirm if you or someone you know really is in trouble. And, while we would all love to win prizes and vacations, chances are if you’re sure you didn’t enter a contest to win something…you didn’t win anything.
In the real estate world, it might be the “title company” calling you to get your bank information. The title company will never ask for your account information over the phone or via email. They will provide you with secure wire instructions for you to complete on your own with your bank. Your real estate broker will also never ask for this information, nor will we ever need your social security number.
#3 If you own vacant land, check in on it from time to time
A very popular scam right now is in vacant land sales. Our team and other agents in our community have had fake sellers calling us with all the right information, asking us to list land they don’t own. Scammers are very good at replicating identification, and they’ve done their homework. If you’re keeping land in your asset portfolio, search it every once in a while to make sure YOU still own it, especially if your annual taxes are on autopay. Luckily, agents and title companies are aware of these scams, as well as fake buyers sending fraudulent funds, and we do our best to protect our community. Even so, these scams have gone through in a number of instances across the country. Make it a best practice to do an “annual asset check”.
If you have any questions about real estate scam or fraud, or would like to share your own experience, send our team a message to Team@COMtnRealty.com . Follow us on social media for daily tips and tricks to mastering the home buying & selling process. Thanks!
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