Magic Valley Properties and 1000 Springs Realty want you to beware of scammers. There are a lot of scammers out there seeking to take advantage of unsuspecting individuals. A quick Google search of “scammed” and a click on the “news” button brings up a plethora of stories on how people just like you and I are scammed each an every day. Scams run the gamut. There are scams related to the IRS, missed jury appearances, a loved one being held, check cashing, online purchasing, computer hacks and malware, winning the lottery, unpaid debts, investments and this is just a few that I have read about over the years. I often find myself wondering how individuals keep falling for scams that we hear so much about in the news. It seems like almost daily I read a news story on one of the many news sites about someone else being taken advantage of by a scam that has been around for a long period of time.
I then have to ask myself, would I be one that could fall for the idea of sending a Apple ITunes card to cure a debt? I like to tell myself that I wouldn’t, but I suppose I don’t really know what I may do under any particular set of circumstances until I’m actually faced with that circumstance. I believe that what I fail to realize is that professional scammers are really good at making what they do seem credible. They like to take advantage of people’s vulnerabilities. They may attempt to build a rapport with an individual. They like to play off of emotions. They try to create critical or emergency situations.
The real estate industry is also susceptible to scammers. My local real estate board, Western Magic Valley Realtors, repeatedly sends out notices of an agents email account that has been hacked. Just yesterday we received an email from a local agent that realized they had received an email in an attempt to hack their account. Now this individual regularly does business over the Internet through their auction service, therefore it is not unusual for them to carry out a lot or correspondence via email. He happened to receive an email with an offer attached, we he went to click on the PDF document to open the offer, he was asked to sign into his email again. Fortunately, he realized this was an attempt to access his accounts and didn’t fall prey to the scammer. He did point out a couple of items he noticed in the email that may help others avoid similar scams. First, he noticed that the pdf document didn’t portray an image of its contents; in today’s world pdf files will normally show a snippet of its contents.
This is how a typical pdf file appears as an email attachment.
He also noted that the email didn’t contain a signature line at the bottom. Now, real estate agents are in the business of selling themselves and their services to the public, therefore, most real estate agents (as well as most professionals) include a signature line in their email telling who they are.
This is my signature line:
I was thankful for the tips he provided. I suppose the lesson we can learn from this is to not enter our usernames and passwords that are requested when we click on an unfamiliar link. Even if the link appears to direct you to a legitimate looking website, don’t enter your personal information. Only enter personal information on websites that you know and trust, sites that you have intentionally visited by entering their website information in the browser address bar. The following links provide information from Bank of America and computer security experts McAffee on how to avoid falling victim to phishing emails.
Now you may be wondering if those are legitimate links, and I assure you that they are, if nothing else, they aren’t asking for any personal information.
Finally, I will finish this entry with information about wire fraud in the real estate industry. Real estate transactions involve the transfer of large sums for money during the transaction. Scams today involve the interception of legitimate emails coming from real estate and escrow offices. These emails redirect funds from legitimate accounts to the scammers account. The attached news story from NBC highlights this problem. If ever you are asked in an email to transfer funds, please call the company directly that you are working with to verify the authenticity of the email as well as the accounts associated with the transfer.
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