BrokerageTechnology

Cyber attacks are hitting the real estate industry hard

Homebuyers are at a big risk for potential identity theft
  • Hackers are sending out emails pretending to be agents, asking for money to be wired
  • General security, like changing passwords, keeping up with firewall protection and avoiding public WiFi networks can assist in keeping everyone's personal information safe
  • Learning state laws pertaining to privacy and security can help make the process easier

The National Association of Realtors has issued a warning to real estate companies, agents and buyers. Cyber criminals are using cloud storage and free email services against you. While it sounds harmless, using common software to steal information is forcing real estate agencies to fix loopholes. These criminals aren’t reckless; they are sophisticated.

According to Melanie Wyne, a National Association of Realtors representative, the media has focused on large corporations being hacked (Neiman Marcus, Target, etc.). Small businesses are better targets to hackers because they don’t have the technology to fight these hackers.

Real estate agencies need to worry about their reputation in addition to consumer damage. The hacked company is risking lawsuits, company reputation, and financial ruin. Jessica Eagerton explained how hackers use a ‘wire scam’ technique to succeed in swindling. Hackers use software to enter an email account and obtain upcoming transactions.

From there, the software pretends to be the real estate agent with a fake, yet similar email address. The sent email asks recipients to wire funds to a bank account. The bank account belongs to the hacker, not the real estate company. By the time the agent and buyer grasp the connection, it’s often too late.

Companies can fix the ongoing problem with encryption and password protection in email and cloud services. Security levels in both email and cloud services should be measured before uploading classified, confidential information. A few things to consider:

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  • Have quality antivirus, firewall and security protection on all computers.
  • Beef up security with strong passwords with a mix of numbers, symbols, upper case and lower case letters
  • Develop a privacy policy on your website so customers can read the specifics on customer date use
  • Learn state laws pertaining to privacy and security with data and secretive information
  • Secure your wireless network with passwords and don’t use free WiFi for personal or professional use

More information about safeguarding confidential information is accessible with a Google search.

Be careful with every transaction. The customer’s safety is a real estate agent’s number one concern. Real estate agents must warn buyers about the fraud to prevent swindling. Urge them to call the Realtor, the title company, the broker and the attorneys for verification before responding to instructions in an email.

It’s over for some buyers, but you can prevent the rest. Safeguard your email, cloud services, transactions and information right now.

Tonya Jones is a writer who specializes in real estate. She has written various content for Textbroker, My SEO Articles and Blogmutt.