The effects of a cyber scam can be far-reaching. If someone falls victim to a cyber scam, it can result in identity theft, loss of savings, and an increase in debt.
Phishing is one of the most common cyber scams. It occurs when someone receives an email containing malware. When the attachment is opened or the hyperlink clicked, malware is installed. Think twice before clicking on attachments and links.
Phishing can also be a gateway for a social engineering criminal to gain confidential information. In extreme cases, this has led to large sums of money being quickly transferred from the victim’s account into offshore accounts. Since real estate transactions involve large sums of money, the industry has been targeted by thieves, these scams are on the rise, and the Federal Trade Commission has taken notice.
The FTC says “If you’re buying a home and get an e-mail with money-wiring instructions, STOP. Email is not a secure way to send financial information, and your real estate professional or title company should know that.”
- Never email your financial information. Email is not considered secure.
- For any financial information you provide over the web, check that the site is secure. The URL would begin with “https”
- Do not click on a link in an email to go to an organization’s site. Instead, look up the real URL and type into the address field yourself.
- Be cautious about opening attachments and downloading files from emails.
- Make sure your operating system, browser and security software are up to date.
If you have been the victim of a phishing scam, you can file a report with the FTC: www.ftc.gov/complaint