Love? Not Actually… Steps to Protect Yourself from Cybercrime

Welcome to the first article in a series from Independence Title on how to keep yourself, your devices, and your transactions safe from cybercrime. Check out the bottom of the article for more info on this series and how you can get involved.

Can the most expensive date of your life lead to cybercrime?

Jean was nervous but also very excited!  She joined an online dating site.  Almost immediately Jean made a connection with Bill.  He lived in an adjacent state and seemed to check every box she was looking for in a partner. It was only a matter of time before they were communicating nonstop. Shortly afterward, they agreed to meet in person.

The day before the meeting, Jean received a message from Bill —he had wrecked his truck and couldn’t make the long drive. He was apologetic and shared how much he wanted to see her. With a strained budget, he couldn’t afford an airplane ticket.  Naively, Jean offered to lend him the money. Bill thanked her and promised to pay it back. When the big day arrived, Bill never showed!  It wasn’t long until Jean realized Bill didn’t exist.  She had become a victim of cybercrime through what’s known as “social engineering.”

This attack is a typical story!  Others have used dating sites to lure victims into sharing passwords, installing malware, or asking for loads of personal information to steal an unsuspecting victim’s identity. The irony is it occurs across all mediums (email, text messages, phone calls) and isn’t restricted solely to dating sites.

Here are a few warning signs to watch out for whether you are in the midst of a real estate transaction or on a dating site this Valentine’s Day!

  • If the opportunity is too good to be true
  • The deal moves too quickly or time constrained
  • Is from a foreign country and about to relocate
  • Has an email that doesn’t match their name
  • Requests personal data such as bank and financial information

Take Action: There are fundamental ways to protect yourself.  First, NEVER use apps or a website on an unprotected public wireless network. If a hacker gains access to your account, the odds are you’ll never know until it’s too late. USE a private network or your mobile hotspot.

Second, NEVER share personal information over apps, email, or texts.  It’s far too easy for fraudsters to use that information to steal your money and identity.  MAKE phone calls instead!

As you work with clients this week between candy hearts and flowers, remember websites and apps on your devices can be an effortless way for hackers to get in and threaten your real estate transactions. From us at Independence Title to all the sweethearts out there, stay safe and stay tuned for more vital cybercrime tips to come!

We at Independence Title are committed to protecting our friends and clients from the ever-growing threat of cybercrime, and we’re here to help you stay one step ahead of the scammers. In this blog series, we’re going to explore all avenues and best practices on how to keep real estate transactions safe from cyberattacks that lead to identity theft and wire fraud. Real estate transactions are now the #3 target for cybercrime, just under governments (#1), and corporations (#2). Since millions of dollars are lost each year to cyber criminals, we thought it would be a good idea to share stories and tips to keep you and your real estate business safe. Each month, we’ll talk about the latest hacking crimes to watch out for and how to defend against them.

 We also encourage you to interact with us and share how cybercrime has affected you or someone you know. We can all learn from each other!   To help create a good defense against scammers we need to all help protect our internet usage. Contact us at Cyberblog@independencetitle.com to share your story, share an idea for a blog, or ask a question!


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