Wire Fraud

Posted March 19, 2018 in Real Estate Trends

Rian Davis, Clark County WA real estate agent

Clark County Association of REALTORS
The Voice of Clark County Real Estate.


Technology has transformed nearly every industry in the world, and real estate is no exception. From online listings and credit checks, to communicating with your mortgage team and REALTOR®, technology has been a benefit to buyers, sellers, and the professionals in the industry for nearly a generation. While there always seems to be a new app or website hitting the market, there are also increased dangers that come with the digital aspects of a real estate transaction, such as wirefraud. According to the FBI, real estate wire fraud the fastest growing cyber-crime in the nation. In 2017 thieves stole or attempted to steal nearly $1 billion from real estate transactions.

There are a number of ways to protect yourself from being a victim of wire fraud, starting with working with experienced professionals. Early in the process, you should have conversations with these people regarding how sensitive financial information will be handled. With a game plan in place early on, you will be in a better position to identify possible fraud.

In order to protect yourself and your identity, you should be willing to manually deliver documents, obtain cashier’s checks, consult in person and other “old school” methods so that sensitive information stays away from cyber thieves.

Closing is the phase of the transaction where the risk for wire fraud is greatest. Most title companies have been aggressively implementing safeguards, and when partnering with your mortgage professional and REALTOR®, you should have a detailed understanding of how the closing process will unfold and how sensitive financial information will be obtained and handled. This may turn out to be the phase of the transaction where you “turn back the clock” and eliminate new technology from the equation. For example, a best practice would be to AVOID sending sensitive financial information via email, which is often the entry point for thieves. This extra step could save you thousands of dollars and protect your credit. If you ever suspect fraudulent activity, alert law enforcement and retain all communications.

As trends emerge and the industry adapts, more best practices will come in to place. In the meantime, have conversations early in the process so everyone is on the same page, and be willing to communicate face to face or over the phone. Using a network of reputable professionals will further help protect you and your bank account from cyber thieves.

Rian Davis,
Public Affairs Director
Clark County Association of REALTORS®