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How to avoid wire fraud in real estate transactions

Large sums of money change hands in real estate transactions, which can make you a target for wire fraud.

Criminals may send emails to home buyers and sellers, or their real estate and mortgage brokers, with false wiring instructions. Instead of the money being sent to the proper account, it ends up in the fraudulent account.

Here's how to avoid being scammed:

  • Use wiring instructions provided over the phone or in person. First Title Company provides wiring instructions specific to each individual real estate transaction. Customers who receive any communication that appears to be from our office containing new or revised wiring instructions should consider it suspect and call our office.

  • Get a contact name, email address, and phone number for everyone involved in the transaction, including the real estate agent, lender, and title insurer.

  • Before wiring funds, always call and speak with your title agency representative to verify instructions.

  • Never rely on just an email for wiring instructions, as accounts can be faked or hacked and messages can be intercepted.

  • If at any point during a transaction, you receive changes to the wiring instructions that have been provided, call your title agency representative for verification. Always be sure to use a verified telephone number, never the number in the email with the wiring instructions.

  • After you make an electronic payment, immediately confirm that it was received.

Sometimes if fraud is discovered fast enough, the bank holding the funds will freeze the account. So if you are notified of missing funds, immediately ask for a recall of the wire or a trace so the receiving bank can try to freeze the account


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