Email & Wire Fraud Risk Reduction Techniques for Real Estate Agents

Email account breach and wire fraud are threats faced by everyone in the real estate industry. The following tips have been compiled by our E&O provider to help protect your livelihood and reputation from the damage these crimes can cause. 

TIP 1: Use your brokerage email for any business communications, instead of a personal account through Google, Yahoo, or other free providers. Commercial accounts like Google’s Business level G-Suite typically have strong firewalls, effective spam protection, 24×7 monitoring, and other security features not available through 3rd party providers.

TIP 2: Be sure that the parties to a transaction know never to respond to emailed wiring instructions without separate verification by phone from a confirmed authority. Also, tell them to contact you immediately if they receive an email containing any change in financial instructions. 

TIP 3: Use a commercial-grade antivirus program that is updated automatically, especially for a Windows PC. Don’t rely on free or cheap programs – when it comes to digital protection, spending the extra money is worth it. Also, be sure to turn on automatic updates, so you don’t miss out on the latest defenses against new viruses. 

TIP 4: Never use public computers for work – they are too vulnerable. 

TIP 5:Be careful when using public Wi-Fi. Connecting through your smartphone’s hotspot feature is a safer alternative while on the go. 

TIP 6: Create strong passwords that feature uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. Passwords of at least 10 characters in length are recommended.

TIP 7: Change your passwords often, and don’t use the same password on different accounts

TIP 8: Don’t share your computer with anyone else. If sharing a computer can’t be avoided, make sure guest users have a password-protected, non-admin guest account

TIP 9: Enable 2-step verification system for all online accounts. 2SV – AKA multifactor authentication – requires login credentials (user ID and password) plus the entry of a verification code or other authentication step on a known device. Once established, 2SV requires minimal effort and is a major barrier to phishing attempts that lead to an account breach.