Hackers are getting good. Really good. And that can be bad news for you and your clients.
Online transactions have skyrocketed during the pandemic and provided a bonanza of opportunities for scammers. “They’re trying all angles, but what is increasing is cash deposit app fraud,” says AVP, Branch Manager PJ Nava. “Now, they’re targeting common apps like Zelle, Venmo, and CashApp.”
Recently, a hacker sent an FNT client an email stating that a deposit had been rejected and needed to be resent through a cash app. The email was designed to look as if it came from the client’s real estate agent (known as “spoofing”). This is a common tactic that requires a watchful eye — an email address might look very similar to an agent’s, for example, but on second glance it doesn’t match up with the actual address.
“It’s really important that people understand that no earnest money is ever accepted on a cash app,” PJ says. “The only way we transfer money online is through our startSafe program. If someone asks you to transfer through a cash app, question it.”
You can help keep your email and your transactions safe online by taking the following steps.
- Call and confirm before taking any action. This is key not just for wire instructions, but for any email that you are not expecting or that has a link.
- Gather contact info for ALL parties verbally or via printed material (not from email or email signatures)
- Save these contacts in your database so their names will show as the sender vs. an email address. This will help you catch fraudulent email addresses that may be hackers.
- Forward emails instead of hitting reply all. This practice will ensure you enter the correct email addresses and removes any fraudulent email addresses that may be included.
- If you suspect you’ve been compromised, change your password. It’s good practice to change your passwords every two to three months.
- Check your email rules for auto-forwards. If you see an auto-forward to an email you don’t recognize, immediately delete it.
- Register for and use the FNT startSafe™ system to reduce the risk of email compromise.
Above all, keep your eyes open and have a healthy amount of suspicion. “If you’re ever in doubt about an email or a request that seems to be from Fidelity National Title, please call us,” PJ says. “It’s much better to be safe than sorry.”