April 24, 2022

How to Avoid Real Estate Cyber Scams  

By now most people have heard of online scams including phishing emails asking for social security or banking information, but many people may not know they need to pay attention when buying or selling a home for possible scams. Cybercrimes have become increasingly sophisticated over the years and the people perpetrating them focus on situations where a lot of money is changing hands, making real estate transactions an ideal target. As real estate searches and transactions move more and more online, being caught up in a cyber scam becomes even greater. 

Here’s an example: hackers will break into the email accounts of consumers and real estate professionals to get details about a real estate transaction. The hacker will then send an email pretending to be the buyer, seller, real estate agent, or someone else involved in the closing process and say there has been a last-minute change. They will then provide new wiring instructions, which send the closing costs funds directly into the hacker’s bank account. 

While it may seem like there are hundreds of ways for a criminal to take advantage of a consumer online, there are just as many ways consumers can protect themselves. Fortunately, your REALTOR® will help you steer clear of these scams so you can have peace of mind when buying or selling your home, and they’ll use their expertise to guide you with some simple but effective tips like these so you can recognize and avoid real estate scams.

Do not send sensitive information via email. Do not send banking information, your social security number, or anything else that could be used to compromise your identity over email. If you absolutely must send personal or sensitive information via email, only use encrypted email. 

Do not click on an unverified email. If you do not recognize the name or email address of the sender, do not open the email. And beware of any attachments or downloadable files from unknown email addresses; they can contain viruses or provide a way for a hacker to access your computer. 

Do not use unsecured Wi-Fi. It may seem harmless to check banking information using the free Wi-Fi at your local coffee shop but using an open connection can leave you vulnerable to hackers and scammers. Only access sensitive information on your home computer or a secured network.  

If you suspect fraud, tell someone. If you suspect that fraud has or is in the process of occurring, contact all parties connected to the transaction immediately. Unfortunately, there is often nothing that can be done to retrieve money stolen in the scam; however, you should still report the incident to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center or the Federal Trade Commission. 

For more information on how to safely and securely buy or sell a home, visit to find a San Antonio area REALTOR® today