Beware of Phishing Scams Targeting Real Estate

You may have read that wire fraud has been on the rise. These attempts to steal one’s money are targeting unwitting victims via their own personal email. Phishing is the name of a form of social engineering in which targets are tricked into handing over their own personal information and sensitive information like their logins. Criminals are no longer just interested in your social security, bank account, or credit card numbers. Any information they gather could be used in conjunction with login access that people can be tricked in to giving up. Lately real estate sites have been targeted.

Cybercriminals are after more than just credit cards and Social Security numbers. Any information meant only for you could be a target. Please note...any information that you input on this web site remains private and will be used for our eyes only and to assist you in buying or selling real estate. Your information is NEVER SHARED beyond the agent that is assisting you.

Here are questions to ask yourself tohelp you identify fake phishing messages:

1. Who is the email coming from? The email address should not be unrelated to the group, company, or organization they claim to be representing. 

2. Misleading links. Links in the email are not to where they say. You are consequently directed to false URL.

3. Generic terms and incomplete informationCybercriminals will use generic templates to mass email. The information they have on a person is incomplete so they may use pieces of your information to attempt to appear legitimate.

4. Requests for sensitive data. Legitimate companies will not ask for sensitive data to be conveyed through email. If the email is sending you to a link, verify the URL and make sure that you are not being directed to a false Login page.

5. Is it information on you that could have been gathered from an online profile?  Sometimes this information is included to make a phishing email convincing. Check the email for other signs of phishing before clicking any links or downloading any attachments.

6. Emphasizing urgency or alarm. To trick you into moving fast, they will incite phrases such as, “Your payment is late” or “Please take care of this immediately” or “You must take action”  causing you to reveal sensitive information without hesitation. Take a moment to consider the motivations of the sender before handing over information you otherwise wouldn’t.

7. Poor attention to spelling and grammar.  Most formal communication is written and edited by professionals. If an email is laden with typos or unusual syntax, be speculative.

8. Unnecessary account verification.  If there is no justification in the email to validate the verification, you should ask questions and ask that justification be provided.

9. Cybersquatting.  This is when cybercriminals purchase website names similar to official websites, hoping to mislead users who don’t pay close enough attention to the URL – i.e. g00gle.com or paypa1.com, instead of google.com or paypal.com.

Bottom Line- If something feels a little off within an email or their offer of reward seems too good to be true, trust your gut. It just may be.

Please note that San Luis Obispo Realty is a secure Real Estate web site and none of your information is shared or used for any purpose other than assist you in your real estate search or providing you with relevant or requested information. Please contact us directly if you want to talk to a "live real estate professional." We want you always to feel secure in your real estate search and experience with our company and web site.