We have all seen that scary disclaimer on the bottom of email signatures… WIRE FRAUD IS ON THE RISE. PROTECT YOUR FUNDS. This is the unfortunate reality of a very real and widespread scam that is snagging more and more victims. So this brings up the question “What can I do to keep my money safe when purchasing a home?” During a closing, you cannot bring a check and nobody wants to be put in the position of being a victim of wire fraud.
Safety Tip #1
Always make sure you are working with a reputable title company. This is where having a top-notch agent comes into play. An experienced agent will have a great working relationship with several title companies and can likely also get referrals from some veteran brokers in their office if need be. Lenders suggest visiting the title company in person, as a buyer you can offer to take your earnest money deposit yourself. At that time you can pick up a hard copy of your wire instructions to keep on file and refer to. Before you order the wire for your closing, you can also call the title company and have them recite the routing/account numbers to you with the copy of the instructions you picked up in front of you. Nothing should have changed.
Safety Tip #2
It is likely that you are purchasing outside of your local area, so another option is to ask your reputable title company to overnight you the wire instructions. Make sure you use a company that will let you track and require a signature upon receipt. When you receive the wire instructions, call to confirm what you have received and after that you should be safe to wire at closing!
Safety Tip #3
You can never be too careful! Always follow your gut, check, double check and even triple check until you feel safe. Phones are not likely going to be used in a wire fraud scam, so pick up and dial your title company, get instructions directly from the source and discuss your concerns with them. You can always go to your bank in person to order the wire transfer rather than sending an email. Secure overnight delivery services like FedEx, UPS or DHL can also deliver instructions. The bottom line is criminals are out there, and they are looking to take advantage of a vulnerable situation, so privacy and accuracy is always best when having to wire transfer for the closing of a home purchase.