Friday, March 20, 2020

The Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) wants to remind our escrow licensees of the potential for increased wire fraud scams during this time of rising volume of home closings and the panic of the COVID-19 virus. DFI has previously issued alerts to consumers warning them of scams relating to this issue and encouraging them to verify the identity of anyone who asks them to wire a down payment, closing costs, or other funds.

As business owners, this is a good time to remember the inherent risks of wiring, the complexity of fraudsters, and the need to follow best practices. Some best practices include:

  • Wire instructions
    • Accept or provide only written wiring instructions
    • Accept or provide wire instructions in a secure manner (e.g. encrypted email or secure web portal)
    • Have the owner of the funds sign the wire instructions and identify the receiving entity and account number
  • Wire fraud notifications and other safe guards​
    • Include fraud warnings in all your email texts
    • Upon receiving any instruction to wire funds, consumers should call their escrow closer to verify authenticity of the instruction
    • If you receive an email requesting remittal of funds, confirm the email by either using the forwarding email function and type-in known verified email addresses, or calling the payee using a verified contact number
    • Set up two-factor email authentication
    • Work with the lenders involved to specify account restrictions