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USA Real Estate Blog

Protecting Businesses and Consumers from Fraud

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After some high-profile ransomware incidents within the real estate industry, CoreLogic discussed how businesses can protect themselves from attacks. Ransomware, CoreLogic states, is a malware (malicious software) that encrypts the files on your network or otherwise blocks access to them. The attacker will prompt users to pay a ransom to access their files, but experts urge victims to not pay the ransom, as attackers may unencrypt or allow access to the files as a result.

CoreLogic states that to avoid ransomware, companies need to train their employees to know how to identify phishing emails and refrain from clicking links from outside or unknown sources.

The most important thing a company can do to limit the spread of ransomware between computers on their network is to properly use a firewall. A well-designed network will include a firewall which limits traffic between areas of different security sensitivity, and the firewall systems may be able to detect when malware tries to move from computer to computer through it.

“For example, in the network pictured below, when someone brings an infected computer into the training room, the ransomware can be limited by the firewall so it doesn’t have access to any other part of the network.”

Ransomware is not the only type of fraud impacting real estate professionals and consumers. According to the Coalition to Stop Real Estate Wire Fraud, real estate wire fraud is undergoing an epidemic. Real estate wire fraud is a sophisticated scam targeting individuals making wire transfer payments during the home buying process. FBI data reveals that 11,300 victims lost a combined $149 million due to real estate wire fraud in 2018 alone, representing a 166% increase in the total money lost compared to 2017.

According to the FBI, only an estimated 12-15% of all fraud is reported, and the Coalition notes that the best way to combat these statistics is through educating the homebuyer. Homebuyers, particularly first-time buyers, are the ones who are the most at risk of wire transfer fraud.

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