According to the FBI, Email Access scams have become a $5.3 Billion problem affecting both businesses and consumers. One such scam involves compromising the computer of a person or business involved in real estate and using the information to impersonate the other involved party to intercept funds. Another scam involves an email or call from a “Federal Agency or Lawyer” claiming you owe them money. You might be thinking, “How can I possibly prevent this from affecting me?” By being prepared and informed.
The most important step to take is being cautious with any banking interaction whether it’s via phone or online. NEVER give out your banking information over the phone or online UNLESS it’s with a trusted business and you can verify it is them. Say you are buying a house and receive an email from someone claiming to be the title company. It is always best to search for the company’s phone number online then call them to verify the instructions you received. Never trust the contact information provided in suspicious emails as it may lead right back to the scammers.
We have all heard of the IRS scams trying to scare innocent people into paying them money or risk a full-on audit or lawsuit. I myself received 3 calls by IRS scammers telling me I would be sued if I didn’t pay them. Unfortunately this isn’t the only scam out there.
Earlier this year I received a phone call from a law office claiming a lawsuit against me. In order to prevent the case from going to court I had to pay a fee of $500 immediately over the phone. They wouldn’t give me any details of the case, just that it was serious. I politely played along, got their company name and contact information, then hung up. After a brief search online of the number that called me I found multiple scam alerts. Upon researching the firm name I found that they were actually a legitimate law office based in Phoenix, Arizona. Although I knew I did nothing wrong, there’s always that voice in your head that says “what if….”
So I got the phone number from their verified website and spoke to a very kind receptionist on the other end. Luckily she was far different than the fire and brimstone “lawyer” I had initially talked to. She informed me that I had no pending lawsuits with them and that it was a scam. I was told in no situation would a legitimate law firm seek an immediate settlement over the phone with no details. Relieved and armed with this information, I filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.
If you are even the slightest bit suspicious, it is best to verify you are speaking with a legitimate person, not a scammer. Use the internet to verify they are who they say, and verify with more than a few sources to be sure. All it takes is once and they can ruin your life.
Which information should you protect like your livelihood depends on it (because it does!)? Information such as bank account numbers, card numbers, and social security numbers should be heavily guarded. Once a scammer gets a hold of any of that you will be at risk!
Oh no! In the event you suspect you have been scammed or your information has been breached, call your local FBI office and speak with them for assistance. Agents there will be able to provide help and can increase the probability of recovering your funds (although not guaranteed).
We pride ourselves on being completely paperless – we scan and prepare all documents on secure servers which allow easy client access. We also provide our clients with secure portals to safely share documents with lenders, attorneys, or others. If you receive an email that looks like it’s from us asking for banking information DO NOT REPLY! Contact your account manager immediately at the email or phone number you usually use to communicate and verify. You can also reach us at (480) 596 8299 if you have any doubts or concerns. Safe is always better than sorry!
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