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Phishing scheme targets home buyers

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Posted at 1:09 PM, Apr 11, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-11 13:09:53-04

The Federal Trade Commission and the National Association of Realtors have a scary warning for home buyers.

Hackers have been breaking into some buyers’ and real estate agents’ email accounts to find out information about upcoming transactions. After figuring out the closing dates, the hacker sends an email to the buyer, posing as the real estate professional or the title company.

The fake email says there’s been a last-minute change and tells the buyer to wire closing costs to the scammer’s account.

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You should never be emailing any financial information, the FTC says—it’s not secure. Here’s how to report phishing emails to the FTC.

The agency also offers the following tips:

  • If you do have to give your financial information on the web, make sure the site is secure. Look for a URL that begins with https (the "s" stands for secure). And, instead of clicking a link in an email to go to an organization’s site, look up the real URL and type in the web address yourself.
  • Be cautious about opening attachments and downloading files from emails, regardless of who sent them. These files can contain malware that can weaken your computer’s security.
  • Keep your operating system, browser and security software up to date.

The Better Business Bureau of Greater Maryland offers the following tips on how to spot a phishing scam:

  • Be wary of unexpected emails that contain links or attachments. Do not click on links or open files in unfamiliar emails.
  • Consider how the company normally contacts you. If a company usually contacts you by phone, be suspicious if you suddenly start receiving emails or text messages.
  • If something seems suspicious, check the company’s website or call them.