A lot of things can go wrong in a real estate transaction, but one thing you want to be especially careful of is being taken advantage of. There are scams and fraudulent practices that unwary consumers can fall prey to if they’re not careful. Overall, we believe that most people out there are good, but don’t forget that some absolutely aren't. Today we’ll describe a few scams and tell you how to arm yourself against them.
One scam that’s been spotted before is the wiring scam. When you’re under contract, we’ll provide you with disclosures that will explain how money transfers will work. Yet it still happens that people will hack into your email when you’ve undergone a transaction and will replace the title company’s bank account information with their own, so when you wire money to the title company, it will actually go to the scammer’s account. This is serious, because once that money is gone, there’s no getting it back. Make sure that you call the title company directly and verify the information presented in the email before you ever wire that money.
Next, there are third-party scams involving sites like Craigslist. In this kind of scam, someone will post an ad for a rental property of some sort, saying that if you send some amount of money, the property is yours. They’ll then “mail you the keys.”
This same kind of scam has even been spotted on other, supposedly more reputable sites like Zillow. Just because it’s a trusted website does not mean you should be sending money to someone without verifying who you’re sending money to. If in doubt, give us a call; we’re up to date on the scams that are perpetrated in the market and we can help you make sure that you’re not unwittingly falling into a trap.
If you ever question the real estate broker you’re working with, make sure you find out their 8-digit license number. It should be published on all their business cards or can be found online. This is one way you can make sure that you know who you’re dealing with.
This next scam is relatively new, at least to our knowledge: moving company scams. This is where a moving company contacts you, or else you find them third-hand on a website like Craigslist. They’ll ask you to send a check to a certain address, after which, they’ll come to your house, pack everything up, and then move it—but they never show up at your new house. They might have taken your possessions to a warehouse to be liquidated, but who knows? The point is your stuff is gone. Make sure that you’re working with a reputable company you can trust. We can refer you to local moving companies that we have relationships with.
Overall, we believe that most people out there are good, but don’t forget that some absolutely aren't. Remember to use common sense, and if you come across anything suspicious, just remember to give us a call. We’ll be glad to advise you.