Sadly scammers are everywhere in today's society. Here is an alert pertaining to wiring money to the title company.
Buyers - keep it in mind for Earnest Money Deposits, Increased Deposits, and funds you need to bring in at the close of escrow for your down payment and closing costs.
Sellers - keep it in mind with where you want disbursements to go after the sale. Don't email wire instruction forms or account number to your agent. Speak directly with your escrow officer at the title company. Their sites are secure and safe.
Following is more information from an advisory we use at Lyon:
Cyber-crime is an unfortunate reality for many large institutions and is also a potential threat in real estate transactions. Wiring funds directly to escrow is still viewed by the real estate industry as a better practice than having real estate agents physically transporting buyers’ deposit checks. However, recently there is a small but growing scheme in which buyers have received e-mails from their buyer agent or an escrow company providing wire transfer information for use by the buyer to transmit earnest money or purchase money deposits to the escrow company. Hackers intercept these e-mails and then alter the wire transfer instruction and account information in the e-mails to re-direct the buyer’s funds to the hacker’s account to an off-shore bank.
In reported instances, it was a buyer who was induced to misdirect their own funds; however these hacked e-mails could conceivably be used to cause sellers to be victims as well.
To protect your funds and to avoid identity theft, you are encouraged to take appropriate, immediate steps to secure the computer systems that you use along with all e-mail accounts. Buyers and sellers should confirm all e-mail wire transfer instructions directly with the escrow officer by calling the escrow officer and obtaining verbal wire transfer instructions before taking any steps to have the funds transferred.
If there is any indication that you have received questionable wiring instructions, you should promptly notify your bank, your real estate agent and the escrow holder. There are many on-line sources that can provide useful information regarding this topic including, but not limited to, the following sites:
The Federal Bureau of Investigation at www.fbi.gov
The Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov
The National White Collar Crime Center at www.nw3c.org
On Guard Online at www.onguardonline.gov