Criminals frequently target real estate transactions because they involve a lot of personal information as well as substantial amounts of money. Title company fraud, rental fraud, wire transfer scams, mortgage fraud, and, of course, real estate identity theft are all common scams in real estate. While many of the victims are ordinary people, real estate agents, lenders, banks, and title firms must be cautious and aware of the security concerns.
That's because, in recent years, the real estate business has seen more malware incidents than any other industry. Malware is a complex piece of software used by hackers to gain access to specific computers and accounts. Inadvertently downloading malware allows hackers to get access to a victim's computer. Some spyware enables a hacker to watch every keystroke a person makes, giving them access to personal accounts' identities and passwords.
Identity theft is defined as when someone acquires your personal information without your consent and utilises it for their own purposes, which may involve criminal activity.
This information can be used to compromise you by gaining access to your accounts, gaining access to your financial assets, compromising others with your identity, or deceiving individuals you know.
Your personal information can be used for a variety of purposes by identity thieves, including (but not limited to):
· Taking money out of your bank accounts
· Getting new credit cards in your name
· Opening new online shopping accounts in your name
· Committing various financial crimes, such as real estate fraud or applying for loans and lines of credit
· Changing passwords and online account information, preventing you from accessing them
· Defrauding others while posing as you
If any of these things happen to you, your finances will be devastated, your credit rating will be destroyed, and your reputation may be irreparably harmed.
You may prevent being a victim of identity theft by safeguarding yourself and being cautious about what information you disclose and with whom. You can do the following steps:
Enable two-step verification on your email, banking, and other accounts: Enabling two-step verification makes it more difficult for others to access your personal information.
Passwords should be complex: Make your password difficult to guess by combining letters, numbers, and symbols.
Change your passwords frequently: Changing your passwords regularly reduces the risk of your accounts being stolen.
Use a password manager to create a unique password for each service you've enrolled on: The credential combination cannot be used to access other services if one service is compromised.
Have a separate credit card for internet purchases: If the information on this credit card is stolen, you may quickly cancel it without worrying about your regular card.
Take caution with whom you share your information: Never give out information to strangers that you wouldn't give out to everyone.
Return phone calls: If you receive questionable phone calls, obtain the caller's phone number, but do not use it until you have confirmed that the company is real and that the phone number supplied is correct.
Don't give your personal information: Never give out your passwords, social security number, or financial information to anybody who isn't required by law to have it.
Personal information should not be shared online: Before you post something on the internet, think about it. Avoid sharing it if you think it may be exploited to steal your identity.
Avoid disclosing personal information when using your phone in public: People can listen in on your chats and learn things you don't want them to know.
Pause if you have any reservations about a scenario. Scammers frequently dupe people because they become nervous and over-share information. You may generally detect a scam for what it is and prevent having your identity stolen by taking a minute to think and look at a situation objectively or by seeking assistance from a trustworthy source such as family or a close friend.
A short visit to the Law Society of Ontario website can help you verify the real estate lawyer. It can divulge facts that a real estate lawyer did not want to reveal.
Every lawyer practicing law in Ontario is required to be listed in the Law Society of Ontario directory. Each licensed attorney should be listed on LSO's website, and you may search for them by entering their address or first and last name. The profile will include basic information, whether or not the attorney is licensed to practice law, and any ethical issues the real estate lawyer may have encountered.
You can probably verify your real estate lawyer by executing the search mentioned earlier in 5 minutes, but it might save you months of wondering whether your lawyer is worth the money.
Real estate brokerages, title firms, and other associated organisations must also educate their employees about cybercrime and real estate identity theft, as well as how to reduce the danger of a data breach. Staff should be educated to adhere to a tight set of cybersecurity standards, such as no illegal downloads, no unauthorised internet visiting, and, most critically, avoid reading or clicking on links in emails from unknown sources.
The methods described above are the most frequent methods used by identity thieves to get people to download malware onto their computers inadvertently. Phishing emails are extremely frequent, and they've led to an increase in data breaches in the real estate sector over the years. The danger of mortgage fraud is continuously rising.
Consider using electronic money transfer that is secure, and compliant money transfer that eliminates the need for borrowers, buyers, sellers, and real estate agents to write paper checks further to reduce the risk of real estate identity theft and eliminate wire fraud in real estate transactions.
If you observe strange behaviour in any of your accounts–whether it's an email account or a bank account–or if you start receiving information about items or services you didn't buy, you should investigate if your identity has been stolen.
Other technological methods include hacking websites to get information, phishing emails, fraudulent websites, and scamming you by impersonating a real firm online to obtain your information. That's only the tip of the iceberg. If you consider the various ways criminals may gain access to your personal information, you may wish to get rid of all your techs.
Assistant Manager, Real EstateTreadstone Associates