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Phishing scam targeting homebuyers in Oregon and beyond

KEZI 9 News talked to Dawn Johnson with the Better Business Bureau to learn more.

Posted: Jun 27, 2019 12:33 PM
Updated: Jun 27, 2019 12:37 PM

EUGENE, Ore. -- Are you looking to buy a home? There’s a popular scam you need to watch out for.

KEZI 9 News talked to Dawn Johnson with the Better Business Bureau to learn more.

The scam is called mortgage phishing. Johnson said with the real estate market across the country still hot, these scams are common.

As part of phishing scams, victims receive emails with bad links in them, and you’re told not to click on those. Now, those scammers are targeting homebuyers.

The scammers get access to the homebuyer’s email account either through the Realtor or through the title companies. Then they send phony emails saying there’s been a last-minute change in where to wire your money to for your down payment.

That’s how they intercept those funds.

It’s happening more than people realize, and it’s happening here in Oregon, too.

The Consumer Protection Bureau said these types of scams are up over a thousand percent. In the Pacific Northwest, the BBB has seen a hundred complaints over the past year, a quarter of those in Oregon alone. In the Northwest, more than $30,000 was lost to phishing scams in that same time frame.

Johnson said the scammers are hacking into Realtors’ accounts and monitoring the homebuying process, and they wait until the moment you’re about to close on the home when they jump in. They get all that data – which title company you’re working with, who you do business with -- so they’re able to mimic the process.

Not only are they getting money, but also personal information. Because anyone who’s had a mortgage knows all the personal information you have to give up in order to qualify for a loan.

The best thing you can do to protect yourself?

If you get a suspicious email, especially about any last-minute changes to the closing process such as where to wire money to, don’t click on any links, Johnson advises. Don’t follow the instructions or click on any phone numbers, either. You should go directly back to the people you’ve been working with, in person or by calling them directly on the phone with the number you’ve been using to communicate with them.

For more information on mortgage phishing, click here.

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