Scammers are using sophisticated ways to try and get money from unsuspecting businesses and individuals. Text scam messages are one of the methods that scammers use to try and access bank information or personal details. This can lead to financial losses and even identity theft.
As a real estate licensee, you need to be aware of the types of scams that are happeningd so you can keep yourself and your clients safe. Property transactions, being high-ticket purchases, are always going to be attractive targets to these organized criminals.
Scammers have been known to lift logos and images from Multiple Listing Service (MLS) websites to appear legitimate. You don’t want to get into a situation where a client transfers a deposit to the wrong bank account because they think YOU contacted them via SMS to change the details.
Here are four of the latest text scams to watch out for – and how you can minimize the risks for you and your clients.
Scam #1 – The ‘Change of Bank Details’ Scam
“Hi [insert unsuspecting buyer’s name here], I just realized the bank (or wire) details were incorrect on the form. Can you please direct your deposit (or wire) to this account instead?”
All it takes is for a scammer to know that a property deal is in progress and this text message could influence a buyer to deposit (or wire) money into the wrong account. Because it’s a text message, even if the buyer calls the number, it’s possible for someone to pose as an employee at your brokerage to confirm the change of accounts is legitimate.
Scam #2 – The ‘Payment Error’ Scam
“Hi there, it’s James from XYZ Realty. There was an underpayment for your recent transaction and we just need to charge a further $7.95 to your account. Would you like to text us your credit card details and we’ll send you a receipt?”
These scams aim to convince a person to transfer only a small amount of money. Because it’s less than $10, alarm bells don’t ring. But once the scammers have the credit card they can go on a shopping spree at your client’s expense.
Scam #3 – The ‘We need to verify your identity’ scam
“XYZ Realty needs to verify your identity for your property purchase. Can you please text me a photo of your driver’s license and social security card?”
“We’ve been unable to verify your identity. Can you please send your identity documents again to [insert scam phone number or email address here]”
Unfortunately, if someone falls for these scams, their personal identification documents can be used for identity theft.
Scam #4 – The ‘Click on this link’ Scam
“Hi there, it’s Joe from XYZ Real Estate. We are updating our customer records. Please click on this link and register your details.”
“Please find attached your recent statement from XYZ Real Estate. Click on the link to log in to your account or register.”
Anyone should be wary of receiving text messages with embedded links to register an email, password, or personal details. Sometimes scammers will do this to collect personal information that can be used for identity theft. They often rely on people using the same password for multiple platforms and can use that information to log in to other accounts. Some scams are so realistic these days that even the most discerning client could fall for them.
3 Tips for Licensees to Avoid Text Scams
Good communication with your clients is the most important strategy for real estate licensees. Be upfront with clients about how the payment process works. Emphasize that you will NEVER contact them to request personal details or give them bank details via a text message. This will help them to be more alert to any potential text scams that might occur.
Some strategies licensees might choose to put in place are:
- If you do need to request personal details, outline to your client how that will happen (for example, by post, email, or having paperwork to complete in your office).
- Encourage clients to call you directly on your cell phone if they have received a text message they are unsure about. They should never contact the number quoted in the text message.
- If other people at your brokerage may be in contact with your client, introduce them to your client, so your client knows who they are.
Protect Your Real Estate Business
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