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Mortgage phishing is becoming an increasingly alarming problem

(REAL ESTATE TECHNOLOGY) Homebuyers are continuing to be targeted in an ever growing phishing scam.

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phishing set homebuyer expectations

Gone phishing

The FBI has recently issued a new warning to all potential homebuyers of sophisticated phishing attacks deliberately targeting the mortgage industry.

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There is a clear new pattern of crime now: scammers stealing serious money by posing as real estate agents or title companies and providing seemingly secure transactions.

yikes

Reports of these frauds have gone up by 480 percent nationwide, clearly indicating that many Americans are falling victims to foul play.
Targeted parties stand to lose their life savings and in most cases, affected people never retrieve their money again.

So far, these frauds have already added up to millions in lost money.

Often the money is wired overseas.
The cyber criminals target susceptible homebuyers, closely monitoring their purchase decisions, and hone in on victims at crucial moments of vulnerability, for example, right before the final payments, thereby coming across as legitimate.

Usually the initial access is acquired by hacking the email accounts of the brokerage or title companies.

Messages of their clients are intercepted, and then fraudulent emails designed to look authentic are sent to homebuyers about wiring payments to an account belonging to the scammer.
Victims unknowingly send wire transfers to faceless scammers believing they are send it to their trusted brokerage firm.

This particular cybercrime tactic is not new

A year ago, the Federal Trade Commission and the National Association of Realtors warned homebuyers about hackers sending fraud emails claiming “last minute changes” to the wiring instructions, and telling the buyer to wire closing costs to a different account—the closing cost phishing scheme.

What seems new is the rise in the crime rate.

Both NAR and FTC strongly recommends reporting any phishing attack to the FTC.
In order to be safe, FTC suggests never sending financial information via email as it is not secure. Additionally, homebuyers are encouraged to go to websites of financial institutions and brokerage firms directly or go via email instead of through an email-embedded link.

The “https” in the URL, where “s” stands for secure is also a good indication about authentication.

Downloading email attachments or clicking on links is always risky. Before any major wire transfer, making phone contacts with the brokerage or mortgage firm is always the best way to go about it, FTC officials remind homeowners.

Want more to be done

The American Land Title Association (ALTA) has criticized FTC’s warnings as falling short of its intended consequences. They demand more action, visibility and concrete steps from other agencies like the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

“Despite efforts by the title industry and others to educate consumers about the risk, homebuyers continue to be targeted,” Michelle Korsmo, ALTA’s chief executive officer, said.

“With the spring homebuying season underway, it’s vital to continue raising awareness about these schemes,” Korsmo added.

#Phishing

Barnil is a Staff Writer at The Real Daily. With a Master's Degree in International Relations, Barnil is a Research Assistant at UT, Austin. When he hikes, he falls. When he swims, he sinks. When he drives, others honk. But when he writes, people read.

Real Estate Technology

The 3 biggest names in real estate blockchain

(TECHNOLOGY NEWS) Blockchain backed technologies are taking over and disrupting all facets of society. These are the three biggest names doing so in real estate.

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It’s almost 2020 and everyday it’s feels more and more like the Jetson’s may’ve been right. Sure, we don’t have any flying cars (yet) but the other technology (ahemm, blockchain) that smartypants all of the world have created proves it.

One of the more recent (to me) and fascinating pieces of tech I’ve been learning about is blockchain and cryptocurrency. More than than, though, is the different applications of cryptocurrency.

I have two words for you — Mind. Blown.

In my recent enlightenment I learned that you can use cryptocurrencies to buy real estate which if you ask me is pretty dope.

Even more so, is that cryptocurrency is starting to be used to disrupt a very large and very old institution — viva la revolution!

The current (and tbh, NEW) big kids in the real estate blockchain space have tokenized fundraising.

Tokenized fundraising is similar to how you buy a subway pass for 15 rides, here you buy “tokens” as part of an Initial Coin Offering (ICO), and they use those funds to build out their product, and the tokens can be exchanged privately between users as their value increases and decreases just like stocks.

These are the three biggest tokenizers right now.

1. Atlant
Symbolized as ATL, Atlant is a real estate blockchain that is hoping to build a “next generation” global real-estate platform using blockchain technology. Atlant currently us using cryptofinancing (ICO) for growth instead of traditional venture capital and shareholders which is much more commonplace. Atlant sees the potential behind the blockchain technology and believe that it can help to accelerate the adoption of the Sharing Economy. That acceleration of the Sharing Economy will hypothetically disrupt the industry and open significant amounts of untouched private capacity and tokenization of property. They hope that the disruption will alter real estate transactions and ownership transfer entirely. Atlant allows users to trade parcels of property on their platform while bypassing intermediaries in rental deals and transact peer to peer so that users feel more secure as well as make it easier to use.

2. REAL
Also trying to disrupt real estate is Real Estate Asset Ledger aka REAL. REAL’s aim is to initiate a real estate investment revolution that will increase market liquidity and remove the barriers that prevented ordinary investors from reaping real estate profits in the past. REAL plans to do so by taking real estate investing and moving it onto the Ethereum blockchain and enabling the average investor to build a real estate portfolio. A cool feature about REAL is that property owners and developers must apply to have their assets tokenized and listed on the REAL crowdfunding website. Then the REAL team – which is composed of successful entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and developers who have already invested $350,000 of their own funds in the project – carefully analyze the properties to select the ones that will provide investors with the greatest long-term value. So the people making decisions have skin in the game too which means you don’t have some Joe Shmo investing all willy nilly.

3. Propy
Propy is an option we’ve already covered but is worth including in this story too. Propy also sees the problems facing international real estate transactions and wants to fight them by creating a unified property store and asset transfer platform for the global real estate industry. They, too, offer peer-to-peer value exchange, with service limited to facilitation and an absolute minimum of middleman involvement. Initially the Propy Registry will look and feel like official land registry records in which transfers of real estate are recorded. However, Propy’s big dream is that jurisdictions will adopt the Propy Registry as their own official ledger of record so that the transfer of a property on the Propy Registry constitutes the legal transfer of the property and the legal registration of that transfer.

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Real Estate Technology

KRACK is the wifi vulnerability Y2K wishes it was

(TECHNOLOGY NEWS) It was recently discovered that there is a vulnerability in all wifi networks, know how to keep your information from slipping through the KRACK!

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A security researcher has discovered a new vulnerability that affects literally all WiFi networks – and now that they know about it, it won’t be long before hackers know about it too.

The vulnerability, discovered by security researcher Mathy Vanhoef, lies within the WPA2 encryption used by all WiFi devices and routers. It’s called KRACK, which stands for Key Reinstallation Attacks.

By taking advantage of KRACKs, a hacker can snatch up data that we previously thought was encrypted and totally safe, including credit card numbers, passwords, messages in chat and email, and photographs. A hacker could even hack into your devices with cameras and get a live stream into your home.

They can also inject ransomware or malware into your device.

Security experts are urging all device makers and internet service providers (ISPs) to release updates to patch over KRACKs as soon as possible. In the meantime, there are a few suggestions for how you can protect yourself.

First of all, make sure all of your devices and routers are updated, and turn on auto-updates so that if any new KRACK patches come in, you’ll be sure to get them right away. If you got a router from your ISP, you should call them and bother them until they release a security patch for KRACKs.

In the meantime, use your router’s user guide to find the administrative options and make sure everything is up to date and that you have the strongest privacy settings selected.

If your ISP is slow to respond, you might consider using an Ethernet cable to connect to the Internet, since KRACKs are only a problem with WiFi networks.

You can also disable WiFi on your smartphone and use your cellular data instead – although this could get expensive if you pay extra for cellular. You should also pull you Internet of Things devices, especially ones with cameras and assistants like Alexa, off of WiFi until your ISP has a KRACK patch.

It also helps to access the web through encrypted websites whenever possible.

Many sites offer either unencrypted access (HTTP) or encrypted access (HTTPS). You can download an extension called HTTPS Everywhere that tells your browser to automatically use encrypted access whenever available.

It’s available for Chrome, Firefox, and Opera.

Lastly, be aware that Android devices 6.0 or later are more vulnerable to KRACKs attacks than other devices. Good luck, and keep your information from slipping through the KRACKs!

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Real Estate Technology

Dot coms are on their way out when it comes to Realtors’ sites

(TECHNOLOGY NEWS) NAR is making moves to secure their Realtors sites with .Realtor and .realestate authentications.

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dot realtor

The National Association of Realtors (NAR), the governing body of American realtors, has offered the .REALTOR domain to those who are members and has extended its initial kick off program until 2018.

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Currently, members of NAR can acquire a .REALTOR for one free year, as well as branded domain email and website creation. After the first year, REALTORS will pay $39.95 for their domain. NAR is also working on acquiring the domain .realestate for those in its membership as well.

Pile on the pros

This change can affect the online presence of a realtor in many number of ways. Because the .realtor domain is strictly policed by NAR and top level domain (TLD) registration group Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), this allows for a certain amount of trust and credibility to be made with a future customer. Due to the NAR’s deal with ICANN, those who use .REALTOR has that his or her domain registration tied to their National Realtors Database System (NRDS) ID number.

NAR states that this process is similar to the verification process for a .gov or .edu address.

Another reason for the decision to layers of around the strict TLD verification is the protection of the NAR brand, as well as the word realtor. Laypeople frequently confuse the terms “realtor” and “real estate agent,” unaware of the fact that only a member of the NAR is officially a realtor, and licensed non members who sell property are actually real estate agents.

In 2015, .REALTOR was the fastest growing TLD that had authentic websites, i.e. not domains bought for the purpose of scalping.

The NAR is also the largest trade association in the United States, with 1.2 million members. The TLD process for the NAR made history by being the first brand using this type of verification that was previously only afforded to governmental bodies and educational institutions.

Added security

The internet is a vast superhighway of changing parts, and the modification of TLD is a selling point for enhancing a brand.

NAR is offering a service by allowing the TLD to be another source of credibility for its members, a perk few other trade organizations can match.

#DOTrealtor

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