No industry is exempt from cyber-crime, and the real estate industry has become a common target. As hackers devise plans to obtain sensitive information about real estate transactions, real estate professionals need to take interest in cybersecurity to protect their clients and themselves from wire fraud.

For example, a potential indicator of wire fraud is an email that makes any reference to a Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) wire transfer, which poses as an overseas destination for funds.

However, since the emails tend to include detailed information pertaining to the transaction—due to the perpetrator having access to the agent’s email account—many people make the mistake of assuming the email is from a legitimate source. The email addresses often appear to be legitimate, but they definitely aren’t.

To prevent cyber-crime from occurring, every party involved in a real estate transaction needs to implement and follow a series of security measures. Here’s what you should and shouldn’t to protect your real estate business:


  • Inform clients about your email and communication practices and explain that you will never expect them to send sensitive information via email.
  • Contact the recipient you’re wiring funds to using a verified phone number to confirm that the wiring information is accurate. The phone number should be obtained from a reliable source—email is not one of them.
  • Ensure emails are encrypted if that’s the only method available for sending information about a transaction.
  • Delete old emails regularly, as they may reveal information that hackers can use.
  • Change usernames and passwords on a regular basis and make sure that they’re difficult to guess.
  • Make sure anti-virus technology is up to date and that firewalls are installed and working.


  • Open suspicious emails. If the email has already been opened, never click on any links in the email, open any attachments, or reply to the email.
  • Send wire transfer information, or any type of sensitive information, via email. This includes all types of financial information, not just wire instructions.

For more information on avoiding real estate fraud and other types of cyber-crime, contact an MMA advisor.

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