FAQ: Do you take checks?
FAQ: What is Wire Fraud?
Traditionally, when buyers makes an offer, they include an Earnest Money Deposit or "good faith" deposit to be held by Escrow until they either close escrow and apply it towards the purchase price or cancel and it's refunded (in some, but not all cases). Buyers also send monies at the closing of escrow to pay the balance due, loan or not.
Buyers often ask if they can give me a check to deliver to escrow. "No. We do not handle money at all anymore, where in years past we did." Today we expect all monies in escrow to be wired; it's faster, easier and has no waiting period for funds to clear.
The problem with this electronic process has been the advent of Identity Theft and Wire Fraud!
Agents of Evil that hack your escrow's email, your Realtor's email and your email to mimic wire instructions perfectly with one almost undetectable change...the account # your funds transfer to! They redirect your money into their accounts and POOF! It’s gone! This can happen to sellers on the delivery of proceeds too.
*ACCORDINGLY, BUYERS AND SELLERS ARE ADVISED (per C.A.R.):
1. Obtain the phone number of the Escrow Officer at the beginning of the transaction.
2. DO NOT EVER WIRE FUNDS PRIOR TO CALLING YOUR ESCROW OFFICER TO CONFIRM WIRE INSTRUCTIONS. ONLY USE A PHONE NUMBER YOU WERE PROVIDED PREVIOUSLY. Do not use any different phone number included in the emailed wire transfer instructions.
3. Orally confirm the wire transfer instruction is legitimate and confirm the bank routing number, account numbers and other codes before taking steps to transfer the funds.
4. Avoid sending personal information in emails or texts. Provide such information in person or over the telephone directly to the Escrow Officer.
5. Take steps to secure the system you are using with your email account. These steps include creating strong passwords, using secure WiFi, and not using free services.
Federal Bureau of Investigation: https://www.fbi.gov/
National White Collar Crime Center: http://www.nw3c.org/
On Guard Online: https://www.onguardonline.gov/
Images courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
*C.A.R. Wire Fraud Advisory