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The Risks of Fraud in Email Transactions

The impact of COVID-19 on both our world and the title industry specifically is wide-reaching and, from what we can tell, long-lasting.

With real estate closings shifting from happening in-person to now, primarily, online, there come several risks with these online transactions, especially those via email. Email fraud is, unfortunately, very common, and it can also be easy to miss. Here are a few red flags to look for.

Email Address is Incorrect

You may not always think to look at the email address that sent you an email — especially if the name looks correct — but this may indicate if the email is legitimate or not. Chances are, you’ve exchanged emails with the correct individual before — if so, check against those to make sure you’re speaking with the right person.

In addition, make sure that the “From” email address is the same as the “To” email address when you go to respond. It’s not difficult for scammers to modify those two addresses in order to receive a wire transfer or other sensitive documents. 

Signature Section Doesn’t Match

Emails from your title specialist, or other parties involved in a wire transfer, should include a well-formatted signature section, including items such as a name, title, phone number, and possibly a company logo. If the email signature information does not match the sender information, this is a sign the transaction may be fraudulent. 

Phrasing and Lingo is Outdated or Fragmented

A big indicator of a fraudulent email is the language being used in the email itself. Check for outdated slang, broken or fragmented sentences, and the repetition of words such as “kindly.” These may indicate a phishing email. 

Emails Arrive at Odd Hours

Check the time at which you receive an email. If it is in the middle of the night, rather than during regular business hours, it may be a sign that the individual is not local (or even within the U.S.). 

Sender Demands Tight Turnarounds

If the email you received asks for unreasonably quick timeframes for transactions, documents or signatures, this is likely a sign that it’s a scam email. Parties involved in your typical title transaction will not include language such as “You must respond by …” in their communications with you. 

Especially now, your team at Investors Title Company is here to help you make sense of any transactions and be sure they are legitimate. Should you have any questions or concerns with an exchange you’re participating in, contact us today for assistance.