4 Things You Can Do Today to Keep Your Customers Safe From Wire Fraud

It’s likely you already have wire fraud on your list of serious concerns. And unfortunately, your fears are well-founded – the number of victims being scammed continues to rise. In fact, the FBI reported a 2,370% rise in wire transfer scams between January 2015 and December 2016, resulting in a global loss of $5B

The majority of these wire fraud cases have been – and continue to be – carried out via email. Here’s how the scam works: a scammer assumes the identity of someone the customer trusts, then sends false wire transfer instructions. The customer authorizes the transfer to the fraudulent account, then the scammer transfers the money to a different account within minutes, and it’s virtually impossible to recover the lost funds.

To prevent your office (and your customers) from falling victim to these criminals, consider the following safeguards:

What Your Office Can Do

It’s imperative that you protect your email accounts from getting hacked. By preventing scammers from sending out fraudulent mails in the first place, you’re stopping wire fraud before it can even start.

1. Set up secure passwords for all employees

It’s elementary, but invaluable. Create passwords that are at least 16 characters long, and contain numbers, upper and lowercase letters, and punctuation marks. The longer it is,  the better it is. The more complicated the password, the less likely it is to be hacked. A few more password tips:

  • Don’t use real words as part of passwords

  • Don’t use the same password twice

  • Implement a password manager like LastPass or 1Password company-wide to store all passwords so employees don’t forget them

  • Ensure passwords are updated on a regular basis

Most important, make sure everyone in your office follows these standards. In other words, don’t let them change their individual passwords to something easier to hack.

2. Implement two-factor authentication

This process gives your web services a second way (usually through text or email) to verify that it’s actually someone from your title office logging in. Aside from implementing a strong password, it’s one of the simplest ways to add an extra layer of security. You can get started with two-factor authentication, by looking into your web service security settings.

What You Can Do For Your Customers

One of the most insidious elements of a wire transfer email scam is that the customer authorizes the transfer themselves. Protect them by making sure they know what to look for and how to stay safe.

3. Inform customers of the basics

Tell your customers how common scams work. They should understand that it’s highly unlikely you’d change wire transfer instructions at the last minute, request funds more than a week prior to closing, request a partial amount, or pressure them to take action quickly, especially via email communication. Ask customers to immediately report anything that doesn’t seem right.

4. Warn customers at every step of the process

Start by talking customers through your process verbally and letting them know what will happen and what to be suspicious of. Then, include printed information on preventing wire fraud with contracts, with handouts, and with closing instructions. Share your educational materials with the agents you work with, and add a quick caution to your email signature. Finally, have customers sign a document acknowledging they’ve read and understand how to avoid wire fraud.

By protecting your email, and educating your customers, you’re taking the first steps to prevent wire fraud from happening. If you’re serious about preventing wire fraud in your office, take a look at SafeWire.

SafeWire is the fraud prevention software from SafeChain. It verifies the bank account ownership of every buyer and seller in your property transactions instantly, and requires your clients to prove their identity through multi-factor authentication. It secures your wire transactions while helping you close faster. Set up a demo to see how SafeWire can keep your company safe from wire fraud.

FraudKrystine Monnett