Fall Security Insights – Mortgage Closing Scams
Closing is one of the most important stages of buying a house. Learn how to prepare and what to expect so you can close with confidence.
Mortgage closing scams target homebuyers who are nearing the closing date on their mortgage loan. The scammer attempts to steal the homebuyer's closing funds—for example, their down payment and closing costs—by sending the homebuyer an email posing as the homebuyer's real estate agent or settlement agent (title company, escrow officer, or attorney).
Through a sophisticated phishing scam, they may attempt to divert your closing costs and down payment into a fraudulent account by confirming or suggesting last-minute changes to your wiring instructions.
While it’s easy to think you may not fall for this kind of scam, these schemes are complex and often appear as legitimate conversations with your real estate or settlement agent. The ultimate cost to victims could be the loss of their life savings.
How to avoid a mortgage phishing scam
Identify two trusted individuals to confirm the closing process and payment instructions. Ahead of your mortgage closing, discuss in person, or by phone, the closing process and money transfer protocols with these trusted individuals (realtor, settlement agent, etc.). Be cautious about exchanging any details about your closing over email. You may want to use this opportunity to also create a code phrase, known only by these trusted parties, if you need a secure way to confirm their identities in the future.
- Write down their names and contact information. Document who these individuals are and their primary phone numbers.
- Before wiring money, always confirm instructions with your trusted representatives. Never follow instructions contained in an email. Verify the closing instructions, including the account name and number, with your trusted representatives either in person or by using the phone number you previously agreed to.
- Avoid using phone numbers or links in an email. Again, scammers can closely replicate the email address, phone number and format of an exchange from your agents. Avoid clicking on any links or downloading attachments without first confirming with your trusted representatives.
- Do NOT email financial information. Email is never a secure way to send financial information.
- Be mindful of phone conversations. It may be difficult to identify whether a phone call is fraudulent or legitimate. Scammers may call and ask you to verify your personal or financial information. When in doubt, always refer back to your trusted professionals to confirm whether it’s legitimate.
Every Wednesday this Fall, the credit union will highlight a new scam to help you stay one step ahead of the Fraudsters.
Improve your financial health by regularly visiting the APCI Federal Credit Union Financial Resource Center.
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