Wire transfers are a quick and easy way to send funds to individuals and businesses. However, due to the immediacy of the transfers and the fact they are generally irreversible, they are frequently used in fraudulent scams.
Here’s a few of the common wire transfer scams and some tips to look out for.
Scam #1: Real estate wire scams
Real estate target those who are buying or refinancing a house. Usually during the closing process, the scammer gains access to a legitimate email account of the realtor, escrow officer, attorney or lender and impersonates them sending fraudulent wire instructions which funnels the money right into the scammer’s account.
- Confirm the process with your lender so you know what to expect. If you receive any last-minute changes, confirm with your mortgage consultant.
- Contact your mortgage consultant using a number you trust to confirm the wiring instructions before sending the money.
Scam #2: Tech Support Scams
This type of scam occurs when someone contacts you claiming to be from a well-known technology company and requests remote access to your computer. Sometimes this situation may present as the scammer telling you they’ve discovered a problem with your computer. They may tell you they can fix it for a fee, and in doing so, may install malicious software to steal your personal or financial information. Other scenarios may include the scammer contacting you to offer a “refund” for a discontinued service or overcharge. If you give them your financial information, they will make it look like they are giving you a credit meanwhile they are actually siphoning funds out.
- Never give control of your computer to anyone who contacts you
- When contacting companies, always use the phone numbers listed on their official website. Don’t trust the ones they give you, in mail or email.
- If you are asked to wire money from a recent deposit or overpayment, talk to a trusted financial representative, friend, or family member before complying.
- Always monitor your accounts and note the descriptions of the transactions. Verify them with your financial institution if you are unsure about anything.
Scam #3: Online Shopping Scams
This scam involves realistic websites and fake social media ads to lure the shopper in. It may also include false warranties and assurances for their products. The scammer may request payment through a wire or mobile payment because they are usually irreversible.
- Be aware that anyone can create a website that appears to be realistic with accompanying social media ads that lure you to their site. Do your research on the product and the company.
- Look out for deals that are too good to be true.
- Avoid paying online with wire transfers or mobile payment apps
Additional wire transfer scams:
- Foreign business or investment scam: The are false investments purchases or business opportunities in other countries.
- Family emergency or grandparent scam: These involve receiving an urgent call or email from someone claiming to be a friend or family member needing money for an emergency. They may often have gotten details pulled from social media sites.
- Romance scam: These scams stem from meeting someone online and beginning a relationship that deepens and then results in them asking for money for thing such as medical bills or travel expenses.
If you are a victim of a wire transfer scam, report it to your credit union immediately or you can report it to the Federal Trade Commission at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.