There’s a new cyber scam in town, and it can hit you where you live – literally!
You’ve probably heard of CEO fraud, where an employee receives an email supposedly from the company’s CEO, asking them to wire money or send confidential information such as employee W-2 forms, but instead the funds or information goes to bad guys who use it for nefarious purposes.
In this new scam, individuals in the process of buying a home receive an email from a trusted party (such as their realtor, banker, or escrow company) asking them to wire money to a specific bank account. As you may have guessed, the email actually comes from someone masquerading as that trusted party. In most cases, the fraud isn’t discovered for a few days, meaning that there’s little opportunity for reversing the wire and recovering the money. More information about this scam can be found by clicking here.
In both CEO fraud and this new scam involving home buyers, the lessons are the same:
- Never click on links in emails or open attachments in suspicious emails, and consider every email to be suspicious. These kinds of phishing emails usually look pretty authentic, with company logos and enough personal information to get by. That’s how hackers get people to click through.
- Think before you click: Is this email from a trusted party? Is the action they’re asking you to take consistent with the kinds of things they usually ask? Does the email make sense?
- Especially in cases where money or sensitive information is involved, don’t automatically respond. Pick up the phone and call the sender to confirm the instructions. Don’t reply to the email to ask if it’s legitimate, and don’t use any contact information contained in the email – independently look up the sender’s phone number to be certain you’re reaching the correct person.
- Never send bank account information, payment instructions, or any personal identifiable information (PII) through unencrypted email.