Not only could you be ripped of in person, your home could be the target of cyber criminals. Here are some forms of real estate fraud to be aware of.
There are several forms sales fraud can take, and it can be inflicted by either party, the buyer, or the seller. For the seller this can take the form of inflating a house’s property value, or omitting to mention any past damage or other expenses that come with the house. Another form is rental fraud where photos are altered, rent misquoted, or a property doesn’t even exist as it was advertised. Be wary of facilities that demand a cash deposit to view the property, and ones that will not allow you to see the property. You can also check their website and Google maps to make sure the address listed matches the photos you saw.
Real estate fraud can be conducted on the part of the buyer in a few ways as well. One is to doctor legal documents or misstate earnings and income. This will temporarily make the banks and the seller think they have a qualified candidate to purchase the house, but when it falls through the seller has lost other opportunities to sell the home and precious time. Investigate potential buyers carefully and if something seems suspicious, trust your gut and do some more investigating.
Secondly, there is wire fraud where a scammer claims to be the mortgage, bank, or escrow company that you are doing business with and instructs you that you must change your payment information. They then have you click on a link or talk with a representative of theirs to have your electronic funds transferred to their fake website.
To prevent this from happening, be vigilant if you see any requests to change or alter your payment plan in any way. If the email looks unofficial, call your trusted advisor or loan officer that you know personally and double check. Do not open any links in the email until you have verified it is legitimate.
Another form of cyber crime is where individuals will try to remove you from the title to your house. The best way to prevent this is to work with a company that provides comprehensive protection against it.
Some other signs to watch for when it comes to this particular form of real estate fraud are mail coming to your address that isn’t in your name, and missing utility bills. By being aware of these scams you can be more proactive in protecting your property.