Tag Archives: hackers


Are You Helping the Bad Guys?

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You may not know it, but your email and web browsing habits may be inadvertently helping the “bad guys” take your personal information, or nonpublic private information (NPPI). Hackers are targeting the real estate industry by utilizing sophisticated techniques and technology to hack into existing email threads and redirect the communication, and far worse, the funds, elsewhere. For real estate agents and their clients, this could mean a big payday for hackers, as well as an enormous headache, and possibly legal action, for agents and their clients.

To protect you and your clients, Aaron M. Davis, CEO of Florida Agency Network (FAN), has compiled a list of actions agents should take to help prevent exposing themselves and their clients to a potential hacking situation.

  • Make sure your title agent only sends encrypted wire instructions directly to the buyer and does not copy the real estate agent. (Many like to include the agent as a means of notification, but this puts the transaction at risk.)
  • Advise your clients that they will only receive the wire instructions ONCE from your title company, and then call to confirm, at a phone number you know to be authentic, prior to sending a wire.
  • Hackers use keyword searches when seeking out fraudulent misdirection opportunities. Stay away from using words in the subject of your emails like “WIRE”, “FUNDS”, and “FUNDING”, as these terms are what hackers are looking for.
  • Change your email password(s) once per month.
  • If you click on a suspicious email link or document, immediately change your password.
  • Invest in antivirus software.
  • Make sure you update your computer patches. Antivirus patches and cell phone updates should be applied immediately upon release, as most are released to address security flaws.
  • Educate your clients on industry scams. Forward this link to clients for further information: https://www.ic3.gov/media/2016/160614.aspx

Hackers have infiltrated our industry and figured out how to create chaos. The most effective way to fight back is to educate yourself and partner with companies that monitor and secure their networks.

Through FAN’s partner, Premier Data Services, agencies within the Network stay up-to-date on compliance initiatives and policies. Each agency hosted by Premier Data Services is SOC 2 compliant, and is audited and verified by a third-party specialist organization, 360Advanced. FAN and its agencies gladly take on the responsibility of not only insuring the title to your home, but also in safeguarding your NPPI.

 

 

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Word to the Wise: Has your email been compromised?

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Recently, the real estate industry has seen a surge in email scams, cyber crime and hackers targeting real estate transactions in an attempt to defraud real estate brokers, lenders, title agencies and more. With each transaction containing sensitive, or nonpublic private information (NPPI), hackers are using technology and techniques to hack into emails and redirect the communication and funds elsewhere.

According to Chris Gianni of Premier Data Services, a network partner with The Florida Agency Network, there are some simple steps you can take to ensure you and your clients don’t become victims.

One of the easiest ways to avoid a hacker from taking funds is to simply pay attention. Checking and verifying email sources can take a few minutes, but it could save you and your client from getting into a messy situation.

Gianni says hackers will inject a new reply email address with a domain so similar to the original email, you might not even notice. For example, one of our embodying title agencies encountered a hacker who attempted to duplicate the original email domain, “____@XYZTITLE.com”, by using “____@XYZZTITLE.com”, with the signature line copied from the actual settlement agent’s information.  That hacker then attempted to send alternate wiring instructions to the buyer in order to redirect the funds to a fraudulent bank account. However, thanks to some quick thinking and a few minutes verifying the email source and information, the hacker was unsuccessful.

Also, Gianni advises keeping your work email separate from your personal email.

“If you’re working in a personal email, let’s say, one that you use to sign up for newsletters, online accounts or to download content, a hacker could easily get in and find out you’re a real estate agent. From there, he or she will most likely begin monitoring your emails, plan out a way to get a hold of sensitive information and get whatever they want. “

Securing your passwords in another security option Gianni suggest. Using at least 8 letters, including symbols, alternating between upper-case and lower-case letters, and changing passwords regularly is an effective way to secure you and your client’s privacy.

The most effective way to avoid being a victim of a cyber crime is to use a secure network or do business with companies that do the same. Embodying agencies within the Florida Agency Network stay up-to-date on compliance codes and policies. Through FAN’s network partner, Premier Data Services, each agency is SOC 1 & SOC 2 compliant and verified by third-party organization, 360Advanced. FAN and its agencies gladly take on the responsibility of not only insuring the title of your home but also safeguarding your NPPI.

 

Have questions? Get answers, and get social with us. Follow us on Facebook and stay up-to-date with valuable resources and information.