The digital age has made communicating with one another easier than ever. However, with so much information being stored electronically, the world wide web has become a hunting ground for criminals looking to steal people’s data. Wire fraud is on the rise and thieves are finding clever new ways to gain access to your funds. The most common scam to be aware of is where fraudsters hack into a legitimate email and put rules in place to redirect your emails to their own spoofed accounts. Armed with information about your transactions, they can now pose as a member of the closing team, forward altered versions of emails, and send false wire instructions. So how can realtors, buyers, and sellers protect themselves from being swindled? Here are 5 key guidelines to follow for email safety and spoofing prevention.
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Tips for Email Spoofing Prevention
Depending on the type of email account you use, the process to follow these tips will be slightly different. We’ve outlined the steps for three of the more common account types, Gmail, Outlook, and Yahoo.
1. Change Your Email Passwords
Your email password is your first line of defense against cybercriminals looking for access to your account. Changing your password on a regular basis to something strong with a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters and special characters helps to safeguard your email—as well as other accounts and devices—against unsavory intruders. It’s crucial that all your passwords be different because if one account is breached, the rest are sure to follow.
The process of changing your password will be dependent upon the type of email account you are using. We’ve linked the steps to three of the more common email accounts. Click on the following to learn how to:
2. Check Your Email for Rogue Forwarding Rules
It’s always wise for everyone involved in a real estate closing to check their email’s forwarding rules for suspicious activity. This is extremely important because even if you change your password, messages will continue to be intercepted because the forwarding settings are still put in place. To ensure no nefarious activity is taking place in the background of your email, follow these steps in our email protection flyer.
3. Utilize Multi-Factor Authentication
According to Persona, 80% of breaches can be prevented with multi-factor authentication. Why? With multi-factor authentication, you are the gatekeeper of who can get into your email. If a cybercriminal does manage to get past your password, not only will they be unable to access your account, but you’ll also be immediately notified of a potential security breach. Thus, you can return to our first key step and change your password to regain full security of your account. This tactic should be used on not only your email, but whenever possible.
Use the following links to learn how to:
- Set up multi-factor authentication for Gmail
- Set up multi-factor authentication for Yahoo
- Set up multi-factor authentication for Outlook
4. Update Your Computer and Use Security Programs
One of the main purposes of computer updates and patches is to fix security issues that have risen over time and remove potential access points for cybercriminals. Along with keeping your computer regularly updated, running a reputable anti-virus/malware program can help safeguard your device from cyber-attacks.
5. Know the Email Scam Warning Signs
Knowledge is power. Being educated about what constitutes a scam can help you stay clear of potential pitfalls and save yourself from becoming a victim of an attack. Warning signs include:
- Email addresses that don’t match the sender or are slightly off. An example of this would be getting an email from Amazon’s account services, but the email address says AccountServices@Amaz0n.com.
- Mysterious attachments from an unknown source. If you don’t know, don’t click.
- Being asked to enter, “verify,” or set up an account with your email password for anything other than the email itself. If you receive a link like this, it’s a scam.
- Being asked to log in to update information with a provided link. If you’re concerned about the legitimacy of an update information request, don’t click on the link. Instead, go directly to the website to see if any updates are required.
- The real estate industry is fast-paced, and hackers often make urgent requests to get you to do something you wouldn’t normally do if you have time to think about it. If there’s an urgent request regarding anything relating to your transaction, be suspicious.
Secure Your Real Estate Transactions with Email Spoofing Prevention
By following these 5 simple guidelines, you can stay one step ahead of cybercriminals looking to sweep your hard-earned savings out from under you. Along with securing your email communications, learn how to protect yourself from other forms of wire fraud. Click here to learn more about wire fraud prevention.