In the constantly evolving landscape of scams, it seems there's a new trickery lurking around every corner. From those pesky calls about computer viruses to alleged issues with your Microsoft account or urgent pleas to send money to far-off lands like Nigeria, scammers perpetually prowl the digital realm, seeking unsuspecting victims. Staying informed about these threats is crucial to protect yourself from falling prey to these malicious schemes.
This Might Happen to You
If you've recently closed the deal on your dream home or are in the process of buying one, there's a specific scam you should be especially vigilant about. Once you've signed all those crucial closing documents at the title escrow company, it's easy to assume that your personal information is safely locked away. However, the truth is that many of those documents become public records, making it relatively simple for scammers to identify you as a recent homebuyer, laying the groundwork for their fraudulent endeavors.
Approximately two to three days after your property transaction is finalized, or sometimes even just before closing but after you've already put pen to paper, you may receive an unexpected phone call. The caller might claim to represent your new lender or even the title escrow company, requesting some information verification.
It's understandable if, in your eagerness to complete the homebuying process, you don't think twice about complying. After all, you've already divulged a substantial amount of information over the past 30 to 45 days, so this request doesn't raise immediate red flags. However, herein lies the danger – these callers are often not affiliated with your legitimate title company or lender. By willingly providing them with your Social Security number, closing date details, address, mother's maiden name, and/or birthdate, you unwittingly arm them with the weaponry needed to steal your identity and hard-earned money.
Some scammers go even further, assuming the guise of your new lender and instructing you to redirect your mortgage payments to a different address due to an alleged error in your statements. Falling for this ploy means your money ends up directly in the scammer's pockets, and your legitimate mortgage company is left scratching their heads, wondering where their payment went.
What Can Buyers Do?
So, what's the best defense against these cunning predators? If you receive any phone calls requesting sensitive information shortly after closing, especially within the first month or two, exercise caution. Politely request a callback number and inform the caller that you'll be verifying their identity before sharing any personal data. Then, promptly reach out to your lender, loan officer, or title company to inquire if they were indeed trying to contact you. Genuine lenders typically do not make direct calls asking for verification; their concerns usually revolve around tracking down missing payments, not soliciting personal information.
In summary, it's crucial to remain cautious when it comes to divulging personal information over the phone, especially when something seems even slightly amiss. Always prioritize verification through trusted channels, such as the companies and individuals you've been working with throughout your homebuying journey. In this digital age, safeguarding your identity and financial well-being demands a discerning eye and a healthy dose of skepticism.