Tag Archives: Internet Fraud

Beware of Scams and Other Internet Fraud

7 May

Beware of Scams and Other Internet Fraud in Real Estate

Scams are a reality of shopping online and offline.  One critical piece of information you should take wherever you go:

Always be wary of giving personal information, financial information, if you have an offer on your home, or payments of any kind to people you don’t know personally.

Red Flags for Scams, Use caution with the following:

•    Inquiry contact information not completely filled out.

Take extra care when you receive an e-mail inquiry with missing basic information (i.e. a “First and Last Name”, “No Phone Number”, or one that can’t be verified). There have been scam attempts that ask for information like “sending photos or more photos” when the listing has more than enough photos for an interested buyer (or buyer’s agent) to take the next step and schedule a showing.

If they are truly a serious buyer (or buyer’s agent), they will give you their Full Name, Phone Number and a reasonable request for information (including identifying themselves as a buyer’s agent, if they are representing an interested buyer) and most requests should be regarding a showing. Also, call them back by “pressing *67 then the phone number they gave you in the request” (blocks your phone number) instead of just responding to the e-mail blindly.

•    Long-distance inquiries.

Take extra care in long-distance situations, especially from users in foreign countries. There have been a number of scam attempts that involve individuals in foreign countries who say they are interested in purchasing or renting out a home.

•    Requests that you send a check or money order, or wire funds.

Most scams eventually involve such a request, and there are many variations. A scammer may have convincing reasons why they need to deal remotely. They may wire overpayment of funds to you and request that you wire back a refund. They may ask you to use a false online “escrow service”. Do not wire funds to anyone you haven’t met personally. Also, do not accept wire funds that you did not initiate.

•    Requests for personal and/or financial information.

With identity theft on the rise, it is a good general rule to provide your personal/financial information sparingly, and only to trusted sources.

•    Offers to facilitate a home purchase or loan or rental by an individual claiming an affiliation with ANY investor or investment group.

Any such offers are fraudulent activity.

•    Suggestions to assist in money exchanges.

Money is handled by the Title companies at closing. Anyone telling you otherwise is trying to scam you.

•    Typos, grammatical errors and inflated stories.

Emails that are filled with spelling and grammatical errors are usually a sign of fraud. Also, the sender might claim the importance of themselves or the person they are representing (“I work with the United nations development program”) and could also weave an involved story about family issues.

•    A buyer’s agent or individual buyer should never ask for personal information or a phone verification code prior to seeing a property.

Any requests for bank account numbers, Social Security numbers, or being asked to provide them with a code sent to your cell phone via text or call are all signs of a potential scam.

Report Scams and Fraud

You may also contact the following authorities to report possible fraud:

•    Federal Trade Commission:  via its toll free hotline: 877-FTC-HELP (877-382-4357) or the FTC online complaint form https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/

•    Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Internet Fraud Complaint Center http://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx

•    Non-emergency number for your local police department

It’s a Big Internet…Be Careful Out There!

Your Friends at The FSBO Store!

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