The California Department of Real Estate sent me an email this week to warm against consumer wire fraud in real estate transaction.
Let’s say your offer on a home just got accepted. What wonderful news! Escrow calls you and said you need to wire the earnest money deposit within 3 days per contract. That sounds right as your representing agent has instructed you to do the same. However, how do you know if it was the correct assigned escrow holder who contacted you with wire instructions?
Follow these steps to avoid handing your hard earned cash to a fraudulent criminal.
- Consider alternatives to wire transfers or EFT’s, such as cashier’s checks, and get a receipt. This is where 88 Key Realty comes in to help. Over 95% of the transactions we have worked on, the listing agents request wire transfers for earnest money deposit on the contract. Our stance is to negotiate an alternative way to deposit money into escrow to avoid wire transfer frauds. For smaller transactions, make the payment in person by check or credit card and get a receipt, as these payment sources provide you with proof of payment.
- Ask your 88 Key Realty realtor for the Escrow account number, the Escrow paperwork, and Escrow contact number, address, and email. Ensure the same account and contact information is used throughout the transaction.
- Independently search for the Escrow address and phone number to confirm that the Yelp/Google business page matches that on the Escrow paper work.
- Call the Escrow office to confirm they have your Escrow number and file in place.
- Do not act on a change in wiring or EFT instructions that you receive electronically (via email) or via phone calls. Call your 88 Key Realty realtor or escrow officer by phone at the known phone number to verify new wiring instructions.
- Do not send personal information, such as bank account numbers, credit card numbers, social security numbers, and financial details by personal email or text. Take steps to use a secure, encrypted site to send personal information, or provide this information in person.
Contact your depository instituion and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) immediately if you are victimized in order to have a chance at halting the criminal transfer. File a report with the FBI by calling a local FBI office or reporting online at FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center.
Buy with 88 Key Realty and save.
Buy with 88 Key Realty and get up to $3,000 in cash rebate paid directly from Escrow.