Email hacking and wire fraud, with the intent to misdirect wired funds, is a growing concern.
With the help of our servicer and title company members, NRMLA has compiled the following best practices to protect you and your clients.
- Emailing wiring instructions, or relying upon wiring instructions that have been emailed, is dangerous as email is not secure and wire instructions could be intercepted and altered.
- Always verify the accuracy of wiring instructions with the intended recipient, prior to sending funds, using a trusted and verified phone number for the recipient.
- Be alert and suspicious of unexpected or last-minute changes to wiring instructions, the appearance of misspelled words, and altered email addresses or domain names, especially those that closely resemble a trusted email address or domain but are slightly different.
- Be mindful of links and attachments. Cybercriminals use one or both to gain access to your email and login information and this may contain personal information as well. Hovering over the email address will help to identify if it’s really a valid email or a phishing scam. A good practice is to hit forward and not reply and then start typing in the person’s email address. Normally, a bad actor will use an email address that is very close and like that of your client/borrower. A comma, period and initial are some of the small changes they make hoping this is not noticed.
- Keep your file fully documented and noted so you can review it later. Clients/Borrowers often call to discuss options on the best way to send funds at closing.
- Review email and verify instructions should someone send wiring instructions via email. Do a diligent search to confirm a contact number. Do not use what is on the instructions. Go to a third-party source and get a direct number to call and speak with the company/individual. This practice helps to ensure you are confirming with the correct party.
- Do not accept wire instructions via email nor last-minute wiring instructions that have changed, especially on a Friday. This is not normal and could be cause for concern. Act with caution to be safe for you and all parties involved.
- Discuss with your borrowers at the onset of the transaction that this is very important and therefore, specific guidelines need to be followed as you move to closing. Reminder, this is for their protection, and you are advocating for their benefit.
- Except in the case of an approved short sale of a property, be wary of any offer to pay a loan in full at a discounted amount (less than the outstanding balance on the loan), or any payoff quote where the figures listed (i.e., current balance + interest + fees) do not add up and equal the total amount due on the quote required to pay the loan in full.