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7 common real estate scams, and how to protect yourself

7 common real estate scams, and how to protect yourself

Navigating the real estate market today requires diligence to avoid falling victim to scams. Criminals are becoming more sophisticated, making it crucial to stay informed and vigilant. In 2022, real estate fraud resulted in nearly $400 million in losses, underscoring the importance of awareness. Here's how to protect yourself from seven common scams and their corresponding solutions:

Escrow Wire Fraud:

Scammers impersonate title or escrow companies, sending fraudulent instructions to wire funds. Solution: Always verify wiring details directly with your lender using trusted phone numbers, avoiding online links or texts.

Loan Flipping and Predatory Lenders:

Predatory lenders persuade homeowners, particularly seniors, to refinance repeatedly, leading to higher loan payments. Solution: Involve trusted advisors, scrutinize lenders, and carefully review loan estimates and disclosures.

Foreclosure Relief Scams:

Fraudsters prey on vulnerable homeowners facing foreclosure, offering false assistance for upfront fees. Solution: Work directly with your loan servicer and consult government-accredited counselors for genuine solutions, avoiding upfront payments to unknown entities.

Fake Listings and Rental Scams:

Scammers post fake rental ads, demanding upfront payments for properties they don't own. Solution: Verify property ownership, use secure payment methods, and prioritize face-to-face interactions to avoid fraudulent transactions.

Bait-and-Switch Movers:

Moving companies provide low estimates but inflate costs or hold belongings hostage. Solution: Research companies, obtain multiple quotes, and avoid large upfront payments, ensuring payment only upon completion.

Title Deed Fraud:

Scammers forge documents to steal property ownership, particularly targeting properties with significant equity. Solution: Regularly monitor property deeds for suspicious activity and report any anomalies promptly.

Rental Deposit Scams:

Scammers vanish with upfront deposits for false rental properties, deceiving unsuspecting victims. Solution: Work exclusively with reputable businesses, verify property details, and avoid upfront payments for unseen properties.

Reporting Real Estate Scams:

If you suspect or experience a scam, report it promptly to authorities such as the FTC and BBB's Scam Tracker. Additionally, seek assistance from your state's consumer protection agency and utilize resources like IdentityTheft department for recovery from identity theft.

By implementing these strategies and staying informed, you can safeguard yourself against real estate scams and protect your financial interests effectively.


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