RISMedia's Real Estate Magazine

MAR 2018

Real Estate magazine is the industry's leading source for real estate news and information since 1980. Published monthly by RISMedia, Real Estate magazine offers timely and relevant real estate news to the industry's top brokers and agents.

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16 March 2018 RISMedia's REAL ESTATE {The NAR Power Broker Roundtable} Christina Pappas: The FBI cites wire fraud—and specifically business email compromise (BEC) scams—as the fastest-growing crime in the world, with losses to large and small companies and individuals soaring into the billions. Cyber criminals are constantly on the lookout for new victims who they hope will wire them funds, and real estate transactions—for obvious reasons—are among the most vulnerable. We've invited to our panel this month a few savvy industry executives, as well as a guest from the legal team at Title Resource Group (TRG). Michael, how do we begin to defend ourselves? Michael Volin: One of the first things we need to understand, Christina, is that, in spite of all the precautions we take, cyber criminals are perva- sive and persistent, and anyone can become a victim. That said, our best protections come from shoring up our personal and corporate security and from educating consumers early and often during every single transaction. Joan Docktor: As a full-service company, with title, mortgage and insurance, we know we're vulnerable, and so we're very strict in terms of security. We drill the basics into our agents and employees. We enforce password policies and use two-factor verification. Our agents sign a pledge of understanding regarding policies, in fact, and we send out test emails to agents to make sure they have an understanding of what hackers may send. We know that customers can get confused, so we require our agents and staff to contact them and reinforce the points at which they may be susceptible. No sensitive in- formation is ever sent to a customer via email, for example. We'll either use a secure portal, or, better yet, FedEx it. Mike Pappas: Ah, yes, back to the future. Hand-delivered instructions. Seriously, though, in our offices, associates are never responsible for telling a customer where to send money. That's done only by our title company or closing agent, verbally or through secured emails, and we drum that into every associate and commu- nicate this with every customer. Mark Stark: In our firm, I'm the only one who can send wires—and even then, the bank will call and I need to enter a code. In addition, our title and escrow customers are told over and over, do not respond to any emails regarding wiring instructions, as they will always be done in-person at escrow or personally delivered to you. Lastly, you can always call your escrow officer to verify any informa- tion or ask questions. MP: The sad fact is that hackers these days create authentic-looking signature blocks that can replicate yours almost exactly, and customers can get confused—or forget. When it comes to wiring funds, there's no such thing as too much education about fraud. MV: Instructions to the customer should clearly say, 'Call us at the number you know is accurate—be- cause you've called it before—before wiring any funds. Never use a number you receive in an email, even if it looks like it's from us, and after talk- ing to us, call again to be sure the funds were received.' CP: That's one reason why our general policy is, 'Don't close on Friday afternoon.' There may be nobody there to verify after 5 p.m.—or on a weekend. MV: So let's assume for a minute that a customer does get taken, and funds are wired to a criminal. An immediate call to your bank and law enforcement is your best hope of ever seeing that money again. The FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center—known as the IC3—has per- sonnel taking complaints all over the country. There's information online worth taking a look at. Type IC3 into your browser. MS: And if you don't already have it, think cyber insurance. It's a must- have in today's world. RE 8For an expanded version of this article and other NAR Power Broker Roundtable topics, please visit www.rismedia.com. Transacting Business in the Age of Wire Fraud: Protecting Your Clients and Your Company MODERATOR: Christina Pappas District Sales Manager, The Keyes Company, Miami, Fla.; Liaison for Large Firms & Industry Relations, NAR PARTICIPANTS: Michael Volin Vice President-Legal, Title Resource Group, A Realogy Company, Camden, N.J. Joan Docktor President, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Fox & Roach, REALTORS®, Devon, Pa. Mike Pappas President/CEO, The Keyes Company/Illustrated Properties, Miami, Fla. Mark Stark CEO & Broker/Owner, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Nevada Properties, Las Vegas, Nev. The Power Broker Roundtable is brought to you by the National Association of REALTORS® and Christina Pappas, NAR's Liaison for Large Firms & Industry Relations. Watch for this column each month, where we address broker issues, concerns and milestones.

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