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FBI agents on a football field working together as a team to fight cyber criminals.

BEC Fraud Nears $3B Mark In 2023 In Latest IC3 Report

Calling cybersecurity “the ultimate team sport,” the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) emphasized its ongoing commitment to working with local law enforcement and private industry to combat evolving cyber threats in the U.S. in its recent 2023 Internet Crime Report.

The report, released in March, highlighted investment fraud and business email compromise (BEC) fraud as the two most expensive fraud types in 2023, with investment fraud increasing from $3.31 billion in 2022 to $4.57 billion in 2023 — a 38% increase, and BEC logging 21,489 complaints amounting to $2.9 billion in reported losses.

“Today’s cyber landscape is threatened by a multitude of malicious actors who have the tools to conduct large-scale fraud schemes, hold our money and data for ransom, and endanger our national security,” the FBI noted in its executive summary. “The FBI continues to combat this evolving cyber threat. Our strategy focuses on building strong partnerships with the private sector; removing threats from U.S. networks; pulling back the cloak of anonymity many of these actors hide behind; and hitting cybercriminals where it hurts: their wallets, including their virtual wallets.”

IC3’s Recovery Asset Team (RAT), established in 2018 to facilitate the freezing of funds involved in cybercrime, was able to initiate the Financial Fraud Kill Chain (FFKC) on 3,008 incidents in 2023, with potential losses of $758.05 million. A monetary hold was placed on $538.39 million, representing a success rate of 71%.

In its report, the FBI emphasized the importance and value of victims reporting cyber incidents to IC3.

“Your reporting is critical for our efforts to pursue adversaries, share intelligence with our partners, and protect your fellow citizens,” the FBI noted. “Cybersecurity is the ultimate team sport, and we are in this fight together.”

For professionals involved in real estate transactions, RAT is a significant ally, as the organization has developed the deep insight and resources needed to identify, track and convict cyber criminals.

By creating a strong liaison between law enforcement and financial institutions, RAT is able to assist in the identification of potentially fraudulent accounts, stay at the forefront of emerging trends, and foster a symbiotic relationship where information is shared.

New concerns emerge

The IC3 report noted increasing concern for situations where fraudsters prompt victims to send wires directly to third-party payment processors. Funds are quickly dispersed in such cases, making it more difficult to recover the money.

The FBI is also seeing an increase in fraudsters using custodial accounts at financial institutions or cryptocurrency platforms, where the funds are quickly swallowed up.

“With these increased tactics of funds going directly to cryptocurrency platforms and third-party payment processors or through a custodial account held at a financial institution, it emphasizes the importance of leveraging two-factor or multi-factor authentication as an additional security layer,” the agency noted. “Procedures should be put in place to verify payments and purchase requests outside of email communication and can include direct phone calls but to a known verified number and not relying on information or phone numbers included in the email communication.”

Other best practices include:

  • Carefully examining the email address and URL
  • Reviewing the wording and spelling in the correspondence
  • Refraining from clicking on links requesting you update or verify account information
  • Refusing requests to supply login credentials or personal information via email
  • Training employees on the red flags of fraud
  • Providing staff with ongoing training on how to handle suspected fraud

Wire fraud guidance

As in past years, the FBI reminded real estate professionals involved in wiring funds to put in place strict verification measures should a wire change be requested during the course of a transaction.

In addition, the FBI emphasized the critical need for title agents who are victims of wire fraud to act quickly when the fraud is detected, advising they contact the originating financial institution to request a recall or reversal and a Hold Harmless Letter or Letter of Indemnity.

They also encouraged victims to file a detailed complaint with www.ic3.gov providing as much data as possible to broaden the organization’s ability to track cybercriminals.

Ransomware on the rise

Ransomware incidents were also on the rise in 2023, with 2,825 complaints reported and losses up 74% from $34.3 million to $59.6 million.

In its report, the FBI emphasized that it does not encourage paying the ransom since it will effectively embolden criminals to target more victims.

“Paying the ransom also does not guarantee that an entity’s files will be recovered,” the FBI reminded. “Regardless of whether you or your organization decided to pay the ransom, the FBI urges you to report ransomware incidents to the IC3. Doing so provides investigators with the critical information they need to track ransomware attackers, hold them accountable under U.S. law, and prevent future attacks.”

Light Gray Divider Line

At Alliant National, we are committed to keeping you updated on the latest cybersecurity threats and providing you and your staff with information and tools to help protect your customers and your agency. SecureMyTransaction from Alliant National is an advanced fraud prevention solution built exclusively for independent title professionals. The system helps agents avoid risks posed by wire fraud, identity fraud and vacant property fraud by automating the information you need to move transactions forward with confidence. SecureMyTransaction leverages AI technology that covers and crosschecks:

  • Identification
  • ID instrument validation (US and 200 countries)
  • Bank account validation and ownership
  • Payoff and proceeds verification
  • OFAC searches (FinCEN included in the OFAC feed)
  • Alliant National Underwriting alerts

Learn more at www.securemytransaction.com or contact your agency representative to schedule a demo.

dark photo of a disheveled man in a business suit standing next to washing machines that are laundering money

Beyond GTOs: FinCEN Proposes Expansion Of Industry Reporting Requirements

The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on Feb. 7 to expand its efforts on a permanent basis to combat and deter money laundering through the residential real estate sector.

According to the FinCEN announcement, the proposed rule would require professionals involved in real estate closings and settlements to report information to FinCEN about non-financed transfers of residential real estate to legal entities and trusts.

“Illicit actors are exploiting the U.S. residential real estate market to launder and hide the proceeds of serious crimes with anonymity, while law-abiding Americans bear the cost of inflated housing prices,” said FinCEN Director Andrea Gacki. “Today marks an important step toward not only curbing abuse of the U.S. residential real estate sector but safeguarding our economic and national security.”

Expansion of GTO efforts

Since 2016, FinCEN has issued multiple Geographic Targeting Orders (GTOs) requiring title insurance companies to file reports on all-cash purchases having specific dollar thresholds in designated geographic areas. These GTOs last for six months at a time. The most recent GTO was issued in October 2023 and expanded the list of affected venues.

According to FinCEN’s proposed rule, expanded reporting requirements would apply on a permanent basis across the entire country, without limit to specific geographic locations or a dollar threshold. The agency will accept comments on the new proposed rule for a 60-day period following its publication in the Federal Register, scheduled for Feb. 16. According to the American Land Title Association’s (ALTA) blog of Feb. 8, FinCEN has proposed that the final rule become effective one year after it is issued.

“We are still reviewing the proposed rule and will work to ensure that FinCEN considers the information they are collecting under the new Beneficial Ownership rule, among other things, so as not to be unnecessarily duplicative and also provide clarity regarding the obligations of all real estate parties under the rule,” said Diane Tomb, ALTA’s chief executive officer. “We also appreciate, and intend to continue, the ongoing dialogue with FinCEN to craft a tailored approach limiting the transactions that must be reported to those of the greatest concern and providing avenues to help reduce the compliance burden on title and settlement companies.”

Proposed reporting structure

The proposed rule would require reporting on transfers of single-family houses, townhouses, condominiums, and cooperatives, as well as buildings designed for occupancy by one to four families. Going a step beyond the GTOs, it would also require reporting on transfers of vacant or unimproved land that is zoned, or for which a permit has been issued, for occupancy by one to four families.  Furthermore, both purchasing entities and transferee trusts are reportable unless a specific exception is applicable.

ALTA’s Feb. 8 blog summarizes reportable information under the proposed rule to include (but is not limited to) the following:

  • Name, address and taxpayer identification number (TIN) for the transferee and transferor.
  • Beneficial owner information for the transferee and anyone signing the transfer documents. (names, date of birth, addresses and TINs for those individuals).
  • Name, DOB, address and TIN for all transferors on title or the beneficial owners if the seller is an entity.
  • Address and legal description of the property.
  • information about the payments made by or on behalf of the transferee.
  • Information about any hard money or other lender not subject to anti-money laundering rules. That participated in the deal.
  • Individuals representing the transferee entity or transferee trust.
  • The business filing the report.

For a more detailed summary of requirements and exceptions under the proposed rule, please see the  Fact Sheet published by FinCEN. At Alliant National, we are committed to keeping you updated on legislation and regulations that affect your business. Stay tuned for more, as the comment period progresses.

rear view of woman in front of crossroad fork junction road split in 2 different ways

2024: Steady Economy, Static Real Estate Market

The overall economy is expected to fare well in 2024 according to experts from across the spectrum, but the dramatic drop seen in real estate sales, coupled with a virtually non-existent refinance market, will likely keep title orders depressed.

The macro-economic picture has certainly brightened in recent months as an anticipated recession failed to materialize in 2023. Now forecasters are increasingly calling for a “soft landing” in 2024. Goldman Sachs is especially optimistic, projecting U.S. GDP growth to hit 2.1% in 2024 compared to other economists who see growth in the 1-1.8% range for the year.

“It was fair to wonder last year whether labor market overheating and an at times unsettling high inflation mindset could be reversed painlessly,” said David Mericle, Goldman Sachs Research chief US economist, in a recent economic report. “But these problems now look largely solved, the conditions for inflation to return to target are in place, and the heaviest blows from monetary and fiscal tightening are well behind us.”

Joe Brusuelas, chief economist for RSM, a global network of independent assurance, tax and consulting firms, sees a slow first quarter for GDP, followed by an uptick to 1.8% in the second half of 2024 and accelerating into 2025.

“We expect that policy tailwinds from both the fiscal and monetary authorities will set the stage for strong productivity and growth in the years ahead as inflation eases back to a much more tolerable range,” Brusuelas said in his 2024 outlook report in the December edition of The Real Economy.

While all indications point to economic fundamentals being strong enough to keep the overall U.S. economy on stable ground in 2024, real estate sales are likely to remain stagnant due to low consumer confidence, high interest rates and lack of inventory. The refinance market will be in the same boat, as current mortgage holders will likely be unwilling to relinquish their low interest rates.

Consumer confidence

Viewed through a consumer lens, The Conference Board remains pessimistic, noting in its November forecast that the economy is likely to buckle early in the year, leading to a short and shallow recession.

“This outlook is associated with numerous factors, including elevated inflation, high interest rates, dissipating pandemic savings, rising consumer debt, and the resumption of mandatory student loan repayments,” they noted. “We forecast that real GDP will grow by 2.4% in 2023, and then fall to 0.8% in 2024.”

On the upside, consumer confidence was up 2.9% in November after three months of decline. The Conference Board Measure of CEO Confidence, however, fell to 46 in Q4 2023, down from 48 in the third quarter, as most business leaders are also anticipating a mild recession in early 2024.

Interest rates keep real estate in deep freeze

With interest rates hovering near 7% as we begin the New Year, prospective homebuyers will continue to face a double conundrum in 2024:

  • High interest rates have put many listed properties in the unaffordable range; and
  • Fewer homes are coming on the market as homeowners with low rates are staying put.

Some relief is on the horizon as homebuilders remain cautiously in the market to fill the supply gap. Many regions of the country are reporting strong new home sales, as homebuyers ready and willing to invest drift away from the paltry supply of existing homes to the new home market.

Freddie Mac statistics support this idea, with the GSE reporting that existing home sales were at their lowest level in 13 years in the month of September, but new home sales were showing remarkable resilience.

“New home sales have taken on increased importance for the housing market as the share of total home sales that are new increased to 16.1%, the highest share since 2005,” Freddie Mac reported. “The U.S. Census Bureau and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development reported that new home sales in September 2023 were at an annualized rate of 759,000, up 12.3% from August and 33.9% from September 2022. Overall, the inventory of new homes for sale has decreased 5.4% from last year.”

One nugget of encouragement came following the December FOMC meeting when the Federal Reserve signaled the possibility of interest rate cuts in 2024. However, any cuts are likely to have only a marginal impact on home sales in 2024, as these cuts will come in small increments through the course of the year. Moreover, rate cuts are far from assured, as Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said in his remarks in December that interest rate increases are unlikely, but not off the table.

“If the economy evolves as projected, the median participant projects that the appropriate level of the federal funds rate will be 4.6 percent at the end of 2024, 3.6% at the end of 2025, and 2.9% at the end of 2026, still above the median longer-term rate,” Powell said. “These projections are not a Committee decision or plan; if the economy does not evolve as projected, the path for policy will adjust as appropriate to foster our maximum employment and price stability goals.”

Navigating the market

Interest rates, while high, are not in uncharted territory and homebuyers in the past have learned how to navigate higher interest rates through a plethora of tactics.

Real estate agents and loan officers who are knowledgeable and consultative with their customers may find a way forward by assisting their prospective homebuyers with a range of options, such as:

  • Moderating expectations towards more affordable homes
  • Encouraging buyers to increase downpayments to lower their monthly payments
  • Educating borrowers about alternative products such as adjustable-rate mortgages
  • Negotiating seller concessions
  • Working with homebuilders to moderate costs in new home construction

Of course, none of these approaches mitigates supply constraints. Luring home sellers who are locked into mortgages in the 3-4% range back into the market is going to continue to be a challenge until overall rates begin to moderate.

Keeping an eye on fundamentals

As we enter 2024, mortgage, real estate and title professionals will have their eyes on some additional key economic fundamentals − both nationally and locally − as they navigate the slow market.

Job market

Although the job market has slowed in recent months, the outlook remains strong for stable employment in 2024, with some anticipation of a modest increase in unemployment. Regional variations are likely to have some impact on the real estate outlook in specific markets.

Consumer spending

According to Goldman Sachs, real disposable income is forecast to grow nearly 3% in 2024. Solid job growth, real wage growth and an increase in interest income could keep consumer spending strong. However, forecasters with the US Chamber of Commerce report that consumers are increasingly depleting their pandemic savings and increasing credit card debt to support a faster pace of spending.

Business investment

High interest rates that are hampering the real estate market are also likely to weigh on business investment in 2024. However, if recessionary fears continue to abate, this may increasingly become a non-issue in 2024.

Final thoughts

If interest rates begin to moderate in the latter part of 2024, real estate sales could improve. In fact, there’s evidence that Millennials who have delayed household formations and homeownership could, at some point, represent a source of pent−up market demand. However, the specter of even a mild recession coupled with diminished consumer savings so necessary for a downpayment, growing credit card debt, lack of affordable housing, and high interest rates could delay a real estate market comeback well into 2025, especially for first-time homebuyers.

woman in the winter forest

Inflation, Interest Rates, Affordability To Shape Housing Market In Q4 And Beyond

From global economic trends to local housing affordability, numerous factors promise to shape the real estate market heading into the final quarter of the year. In general, the economic outlook both globally and within the U.S. remains subdued as we approach 2024, with many forecasters highlighting inflation and monetary policy as the drivers.

The Conference Board has predicted global GDP to grow by 2.9 percent in 2023, slowing to 2.5 percent in 2024. Emerging economies are expected to fare better than the U.S. and Europe, which are both anticipating lackluster performances once all is said and done this year. Although the U.S. economy has been surprisingly resilient in the aftermath of the pandemic, boasting strong employment numbers and healthy consumer spending, the Conference Board is anticipating a short and shallow recession in 2024, largely due to high interest rates, ongoing inflation, mounting consumer debt and dissipated consumer savings.

All of these factors are likely to prey on the housing market as well, and may serve to keep new homebuyers out of a market that has become increasingly unaffordable due to escalating interest rates and stubbornly limited inventory, which has kept prices elevated.

Chilly Q4 housing market

The housing market typically slows in the fourth quarter as buyers step away amid the approaching holidays. However, many industry pundits are predicting housing sales to slow faster than in years past due to the plethora of economic challenges homebuyers are facing.

In its September outlook report, Fannie Mae noted that mortgage origination activity had slowed to levels not seen since 2011.

“The new home market, which showed surprising strength over the first half of 2023, due in part to a limited inventory of existing homes for sale, may now be taking a breather,” Fannie Mae reported. “We forecast total home sales to be around 4.8 million in 2023, which would be the slowest annual pace since 2011 and 4.9 million in 2024. Similarly, our expectation for 2023 mortgage originations was downgraded from $1.60 trillion to $1.56 trillion in 2023 and from $1.92 trillion to $1.88 trillion in 2024.”

Further exacerbating the situation, some buyers are sitting out due to fears that housing has become overvalued and are hesitant to buy a home that may lose its value, if the market should take a sudden downturn. This is a regional reality, however. While the run-up in prices over the past few years in several western cities is ripe for a correction, many markets across much of the country increased at a moderate and sustainable pace, boding well for price stability.

New home sales decline

Despite builder concessions to offset high interest rates, new home sales continued to drop as the summer waned.

Sales of newly built, single-family homes in August fell 8.7% to a 675,000 seasonally adjusted annual rate, according to data from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Census Bureau.

“Builders continue to grapple with supply-side concerns in a market with poor levels of housing affordability,” said Alicia Huey, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a custom home builder and developer from Birmingham, Ala. “Higher interest rates price out demand, as seen in August, but also increase the cost of financing for builder and developer loans, adding another hurdle for building.”

As a result of all of these factors, builder confidence in the market for newly built single-family homes in September fell five points to 40, according to NAHB.

Consumer confidence mixed

With employment numbers on solid ground to date, consumers generally express optimism not only about their own jobs, but about available prospects in the larger market.

On the downside, the Conference Board noted in September that overall consumer confidence fell for the second month in a row in September with consumers expressing concern about rising prices, the volatile political situation and rising interest rates.

Interest rates: The wrench in the gears

Recognizing that the ongoing interest rate hikes are paralyzing the market, NAHB, the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) and National Association of REALTORS (NAR) joined forces in October to ask the Federal Reserve to refrain from further rate hikes.

In their October 10 letter to the Fed, the organizations pointed out that a primary source of inflation has been housing, highlighting that in July alone, shelter inflation was responsible for 90% of the gain for consumer prices.

Rather than exacerbating the problem with higher interest rates, the organizations suggested the federal government should be focused on facilitating the construction of affordable housing.

“Sustained, widespread or further increases in interest rates make this economic goal more challenging by limiting lot development and home construction, exacerbating housing supply, and pricing out millions of households from the goal of homeownership,” the letter said.

In September, MBA SVP and Chief Economist Mike Fratantoni acknowledged that the FOMC is still considering further rate hikes and in addition signaled that much-anticipated rate cuts would come later and slower than anticipated in 2024. But he remained optimistic that 2024 would see a turnaround.

“We expect that inflation will continue to drop closer to the Fed’s target, the job market will continue to slow, and that mortgage rates should begin to reflect that the Fed’s moves in 2024 will be cuts – not further increases,” Fratantoni said in his commentary. “This should provide some relief in terms of better affordability for potential homebuyers.”

Affordability

Limited affordable housing continues to plague the market overall. In part, homebuilders have begun to scale back the size and scope of amenities in their new builds to try to address the immediate issue of rising interest rates, but those efforts do not address the wider issue that can only be resolved by a concerted effort to address the problem on both the national and community level.

Affordable housing advocates offer several pathways to improved inventory, including incentivizing builders to build more affordable housing, increasing production of manufactured housing, addressing zoning and other restrictions that are preventing the creation of affordable housing where it is most needed, expanding the National Housing Trust Fund, and increasing resources for Federal affordable housing programs. The continued strength of the economy overall bodes well for a brighter 2024 for the housing market. However, the pace of recovery hinges on the FOMC effectively meeting its target to curb inflation, allowing interest rates to retreat. Concurrently, industry groups, local communities, and the federal government must tackle the pressing issue of housing affordability.

melodrama villain

Share the Message: Real Estate Participants Are Prime Targets for Fraud

If there is a buck to be made, fraudsters will figure out how to lie, cheat, steal, swindle, hoodwink, dupe, con and bamboozle their victims in an effort to drain the bank accounts of homebuyers and sellers, lenders, title agents and real estate agents.

The first step in defeating the criminals is to understand the types of schemes that are afoot. The next step is to educate parties to the real estate transaction, to raise awareness of potential scams, and identify the warning signs.

Here is an overview you can share outlining the most common real estate industry schemes that participants may encounter.

Mortgage fraud scams

There are two basic types of mortgage fraud: fraud for profit and fraud for property.

Fraud for profit often involves real estate professionals or investors, for instance:

  • Property flipping, where an investor purchases a property and then quickly resells it at a profit after acquiring an inflated appraisal.
  • Equity skimming, where a team of fraudsters using straw buyers and false documentation acquire – and often quickly transfer a property – for the purpose of collecting rent without ever intending to pay the mortgage or property taxes, eventually letting the property fall into foreclosure.
  • Air loan, where a fraudster uses a straw or non-existent buyer to acquire mortgage funds for a non-existent property.
  • Appraisal fraud, where a real estate agent pays off an appraiser to inflate the value of the property for the purpose of increasing their commission.

Fraud for property often involves a buyer providing false information to qualify for a mortgage, for example:

  • The borrower falsifies employment verification letters or uses stolen pay stubs or tax returns.
  • The borrower steals someone else’s identity, including Social Security numbers, birth dates, and addresses, to acquire a mortgage.

Real estate scams

In a real estate scam, a fraudster swindles the buyer by misrepresenting the value of the property or by selling a property they do not actually own. Here are a few examples:

Home inspection scams: A fake home inspector is hired to perform an inspection for the purpose of deliberately hiding potential problems with the property.

Vacant lot scams: A fraudster identifies an empty lot free of liens – and often owned by an out of state owner – then pretending to be the owner, lists the property with a real estate agent. The fraudster often lists the property at below market value to ensure a quick sale.

Fraudulent deed scams: Through identity theft or fraudulent deed transfer, the scammer transfers title to a property to themselves and then sells the property out from under the true owner.

Fraud against consumers

Consumers are the most vulnerable targets when it comes to fraudulent activity in the real estate transaction because they generally are not aware of many of the schemes used to infiltrate the deal or prey on their ignorance. Wire transfer fraud and foreclosure rescue schemes continue to be the most damaging and costly to consumers.

Wire transfer fraud is the most devastating of all consumer fraud schemes, as it often wipes out the assets of the individual homebuyer or seller. In a wire fraud scheme, the criminal often infiltrates a real estate transaction through email phishing tactics, then poses as a participant in the transaction for the purpose of convincing the buyer or title company to divert funds to a fraudulent account.

Foreclosure rescue scams are also on the rise. Here are four different tactics fraudsters employ:

Negotiation fake out: The fraudster takes money from a distressed homeowner promising to negotiate an agreement with the servicer or lender and then fails to provide any meaningful assistance.

Bait and switch: The homeowner is asked to sign documents purportedly to bring the mortgage current but in actuality the owner unknowingly signs a document transferring the deed to the fraudster.

Rent-to-own: The homeowner signs a deed to the scammer under a rent-to-own agreement believing they will be able to buy the home back, but instead the fraudster sells the home without the knowledge of the owner.

Equity skimming: The owner signs a deed to the fraudster with the promise they will profit from a refinance, but instead, the fraudster leases back the property to the owner, pockets the owner’s money and eventually lets the property fall into foreclosure.

Text, email or phone scams

Of course, you don’t need to be actively involved in a real estate transaction to be the target of criminals. Text, email and phone scams are also on the rise and victims fall prey to these schemes in alarming numbers. Recent homebuyers and sellers may be particularly vulnerable to these types of scams amidst the commotion of moving and changing information to reflect new residences.

Here are a few of the most common:

Bank fraud alerts: You may receive a text, email or phone call alerting you to “suspicious activity” in your bank account. You may be asked to provide sensitive information to verify your identity or be invited to click on a link that leads you directly into the hands of the fraudster for the purpose of identity theft or getting access to your account.

Delivery problems: We are so accustomed to getting alerts from our delivery services, whether it is the U.S. Postal Service, FedEx or UPS, that we don’t think twice before clicking on a link that alerts us to a delivery problem or delay. A fake alert may direct you to a website that requests a fee to correct the delivery error or requires you to enter a credit card number or provide information that could lead to identity theft.

Fake Amazon orders: You may get a notice from Amazon or other online retail service impersonators asking you to verify an order that you know you never placed. The fraudster will offer to fix the problem for you, if you will just give them information, credit card numbers, or access to your account, all of which spells trouble if you follow through.

Subscription cancellations: Threats are a fraudster’s most effective tactic. When you learn that your subscription to something you rely on every day is about to be cancelled, i.e., video conferencing solution, anti-virus software or a favorite streaming service, you may not think twice before clicking on the re-subscribe button and providing your credit card information.

“Free” gifts: Sometimes fraudsters pretend to be one of your favorite service providers or shopping sites and offer to send a “free” gift if you will just give them your credit card information to pay for the shipping cost.

Red flags of fraud

Scam artists are very adept at preying on the emotions of their victims. Here are a few red flags to be aware of should someone reach out to you under the guise of one of these schemes:

  • They impersonate a company, organization, or government agency you are connected with.
  • They instill fear in you by suggesting there is a problem.
  • They entice you by promising something free or saying you won a prize.
  • They pressure you by insisting that you must act quickly to avert a disaster.
  • They require you to provide birth date, social security information or credit card numbers that you know you should never give out.

Fraud schemes like these are successful only when their mark cooperates. In all cases, it is important to slow down and think about what we are being told or asked to do. If your instincts are telling you something is off, it is best to investigate before responding.

If you are concerned that the request that is being made or the information provided may be illegitimate, it is crucial that you reach out directly to the company or individual by a phone number already in your records, rather than respond to an inbound phone call, text or email.

Final note

At Alliant National, we invite agents to share their stories to help us spread the word on how to protect all of our customers from becoming victims of fraud. Please email us your stories at: fraudhotline@alliantnational.com.

In addition, agents who prevent a fraudulent transaction from being insured by Alliant National may qualify for a reward through Alliant National’s Crime Watch Program. Please visit https://alliantnational.com/title-claims/crime-watch-program/ for more information.

This blog contains general information only, not intended to be relied upon as, nor a substitute for, specific professional advice. We accept no responsibility for loss occasioned to any purpose acting on or refraining from action as a result of any material on this blog.

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