Watching Your Wallet: Homebuying Scams

It’s mind-boggling how much money scammers get from victims in the United States each year.
Published: Feb. 8, 2023 at 3:26 PM CST|Updated: Feb. 8, 2023 at 5:51 PM CST
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - It’s mind-boggling how much money scammers get from victims in the United States each year.

Unfortunately, every aspect of our lives is a target. There are certain things to look out for when you’re buying a house.

The Federal Trade Commission found that Americans lost nearly $6 billion to fraud in 2021. Of the losses reported by consumers across America, more than $2.3 billion worth of losses reported were from imposter scams.

So, if you’re thinking this is the year that you plan on buying a new house, you need to watch out for imposters and scammers trying to get their hands on your down payment.

There’s a scam for everything, and if you’re buying a home, you need to be extra careful to protect that first big payment toward your dream. Scammers have several tricks they use to get your money and destroy that dream.

First, carefully review any emails that look like they’re from your realtor. If you see one that includes documents and instructions for wiring your deposit money, call your realtor to check if the email is legit. A scammer can copy that letterhead and you might be sending your money right to them. The FBI says Americans lose more than a billion dollars a year this way.

Second, are you shopping around for the best mortgage rates? Scammers know this and they’re creating bait-and-switch scams. They have a phony site that offers you a good deal, then when you have given them your personal information, they switch the deal. You’re suddenly no longer able to get the great deal and must take a deal that is a lot worse. This scam is hard to prove because mortgage rates do change all the time.

If you’re at risk of foreclosure, remember that no company can ask you to pay upfront fees to help you pay your mortgage. They might even ask you to sign over your deed to them temporarily. Do not do it. They can sell your home now if you do.

These are all things to keep in mind if you’re going to be a first-time home buyer this year.

There are a couple of other things to look out for.

If you get any emails from your realtor, check for any typos and unusual punctuation. If the message doesn’t read right, or something seems off, call your actual realtor to see if they sent it.

Another thing is to use your mouse to hover the pointer over the sender’s name and email address. Scammers are good at disguising who the sender is, so check the domain name and make sure it’s coming from a legitimate email address.

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