If it Smells Phishy, Don’t Bite

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A thief (dressed in black and eye-masked) pops up from behind a laptop's screen and hides the real URL by planting a fake one on it, clumsily written on a piece of cardboard as a visual metaphore for the phishing technique. Then, he "kindly" invites the user to fill in his/her bank account's password.
A thief (dressed in black and eye-masked) pops up from behind a laptop’s screen and hides the real URL by planting a fake one on it, clumsily written on a piece of cardboard as a visual metaphore for the phishing technique. Then, he “kindly” invites the user to fill in his/her bank account’s password.

According to a recent Google study regarding email safety, those phishing emails that slyly show up in our inbox are effective nearly 45 percent of the time. By those numbers, the odds of you falling prey to these—often times convincing—email scams asking for personal information is nearly a coin flip.

Phishing emails are more sophisticated these days than the Prince from Algeria telling you about your inheritance. Of course we all think we are too smart to be duped, but in the middle of a heated real estate transaction is the perfect time for you to get distracted just enough to let your guard down.

The beauty of email is in its convenience. Instead of playing phone tag with your Realtor or sneaking into the break room at work to give them a quick call, you’re probably relying on the ease of email for at least some of your communication needs.

A recent hacking scam preys on this, where a hacker will use a real estate agent’s email address to you send a buyer or seller an email requesting a wire transfer for closings funds. Of course, you trust your Realtor, so would you hesitate enough to consider that your agent practices under strict safety guidelines and would never use email to request funds from you?

The best rule of thumb if you receive any email that just doesn’t sit well is initially do nothing.

Never click links in the email.

Never reply.

Never follow any instructions to send or wire money.

The one thing you should do: call your Realtor immediately. Your agent, as well as your Title Company, are committed to protecting your safety (and your hard earned money). They won’t use email to ask secure information, and they certainly won’t send you instructions for wiring money.

As always, Woods Bros Realty is dedicated to your security. Reach out to us any time an email smells just a little bit too phishy.

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