Wire transfer fraud is increasing during the course of business and real estate closings. I recently learned of an attorney whose AOL email was hacked. Using a fake email address that appeared to be from the law office, the criminal emailed fraudulent wire transfer instructions to a client preparing to close on a transaction. The client followed the fake instructions and unknowingly wired all funds to a scammer.
While our firm has cyber policies in place and uses industry accepted software and email tools, we are aware of the increasing sophistication of cyber-criminals. For this reason, we ask clients to call our firm to confirm receipt of correct wire transfer instructions prior to sending funds.
Emails are not the only manner of illegally gaining electronic information. Common advice is to use strong passwords, frequently change passwords, do not click on links in emails, do not open attachments in suspicious emails, monitor accounts and credit reports, use encrypted communications, back-up data, and use virus protection and anti-spyware. We also rely upon our consultants to advise on security measures, and suggest individuals and businesses also review the status of their cyber-security measures.
And, as an added measure of protection, when in doubt about a suspicious email from a known contact, pick up the phone and call them at a trusted phone number prior to further online action or transfer of information or money.