It is common practice when dating documents to simply use the last two numbers of the year, however, police departments and other public agencies have warned the abbreviation of the year 2020 could lead to fraud on legal documents. When 2020 is abbreviated, it could easily be manipulated by adding extra number to change the date to a previous or future year, such as 2019 or 2021. Consumers should be warned to never abbreviate dates on legal documents.
Wire Fraud Awareness in 2020
Real estate professionals should also be on the lookout for email phishing and wire fraud as they dive into the hot spring market. The real estate industry continues to be a target for internet hackers and scammers. Consumers are experiencing an uptick in the volume of attacks. Real estate professionals should train their clients to keep the following in mind:
- Hackers send emails to home buyers and sellers and attempt to impersonate agents and title officers involved in the closing;
- Hackers will send fraudulent wire instructions to get you to wire funds to an account controlled by the hacker;
- Never trust an email with wire instructions or an email asking you to provide sensitive financial information;
- ALWAYS call your escrow officer to confirm wire instructions using a phone number you looked up from an independent source. NEVER use a phone number from an email (the criminal will often provide their phone number in a spoofed email);
- Use only secure email accounts with Multi-Factor Authentication (“MFA”) measures and long passwords; and
- Immediately contact the bank and authorities when a scam happens.