Buyers, sellers, Realtors®, real estate brokers, escrow officers and closing attorneys are all targets for wire fraud. Wire fraud in real estate transactions typically occurs through Business Email Compromise (“BEC”).
BEC is a fraud scheme targeting industries that regularly wire funds, including real estate transactions. Through BEC, fraudsters gain access to a transaction participant’s email account and impersonate either that participant, or any other participant in the transaction, in an effort to redirect funds to themselves. In a real estate transaction, the fraudsters often target buyer’s closing funds, seller’s proceeds, lender’s funds, or even broker’s commissions.
In efforts to minimize the effects of BEC, FNF® has developed the Wire Safe campaign to educate its customers, buyers and sellers, their lenders, representatives, and our own employees and title insurance agents, on how to detect attempts at BEC and avoid potential diversions of funds by verbally verifying changes in wire instructions. As part of this campaign, consumers are informed at the outset of a transaction on what they can do to keep themselves Wire Safe, and then acknowledge the process of receiving and verifying wire instructions when they are buying or selling a home.
In addition, FNF® expanded its Wire Safe program to include Start inHere®, a new digital opening package for consumers. FNF’s Start inHere digital opening package involves obtaining wire instructions through a secure portal, which lessens the dependency on emails. Upon accessing Start inHere, buyers and sellers are presented with educational content about wire fraud and tips for avoiding it, all from the convenience of their own smartphone, tablet, or home computer.