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We love Florida for its beautiful beaches, diverse wildlife, and oranges. Criminals love Florida for its vulnerable people. Did you know that Florida had the second highest number of cyber fraud victims in the country at 21,887, according to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) 2017 Internet Crime Report? Losses totaled more than $110 MILLION in 2017. Florida has seen a huge rise in cyber fraud in real estate and title insurance transactions as our population, and the number of home sales increases.
That's where Southern Title's investment in technology can help protect you - and your investment.
Buying or selling a house and want to protect your funds and investment?
While nothing is completely failsafe, it’s important to work with a title agent who takes it seriously. Did you know Southern Title has a Cybersecurity and Information Technology Team dedicated to protecting the integrity of your information and your funds? We’ve deployed robust endpoint protection and security information and event management software - basically a protect, detect, and respond platform – that brings next level oversight and management to all company devices and networks.
Since the single greatest threat comes from mistakenly clicking on a virus-laden link, you can rest assured all Southern Title associates undergo cyber security and awareness training on a monthly basis designed to help us protect you, your funds, and the integrity of the transaction.
One of the most common types of cyber fraud is conducted via email. Often, the perpetrator will hack into a real estate agent’s email account and send a phony email to one of the parties, created to look like legitimate correspondence. The "spoofed" email includes wiring instructions to complete the transaction. The hacker’s goal is to transfer funds to their bank account rather than the seller’s. Often, the hacker’s account is located offshore, making recovery of the funds difficult. Emails can also be hacked to obtain normally protected personal information from documents used in the transaction, like social security numbers, for later use in conducting other types of fraud, such as identity theft. As a buyer, or seller, or real estate agent, those clicks can be costly.
Below are some tips to protect yourself, your funds and your customers:
– Be sure your system, browser and security software is up to date. Avoid public wi-fi, even if it is password protected. If you can’t avoid public wi-fi, consider using an alternate encryption such as a virtual private network (VPN). Implement two-factor authentication for remote access to your network.
– Verify the sender’s email address. Hover over any link with your mouse and look to the bottom of your browser window. The actual web address the link directs to will be listed there. Don't click the link unless you're absolutely sure it's safe. If you are submitting financial information via a link or website, look to the address bar and be sure the URL begins with https. The “s” indicates the site is secure.
– Use contact information you already have to verify an email is legitimate. DO NOT use the links or phone numbers in the email you are verifying. The links could expose your computer and/or network to more cyber-attacks. If the email is spoofed, the email addresses and phone numbers included probably belong to the hackers.
– Check to be sure the funds were sent to the correct bank account immediately after the transfer.
– choose a title insurance agency who invests in the technology necessary to protect you! Choose Southern Title.
Data collected from the Florida Department of Financial Services.