CFPB Unveils Tips to Protect Against Mortgage Closing Scams

June 11, 2019

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) on June 3 released information and guidance to help protect consumers from falling prey to mortgage phishing scams.

Over the past year, ALTA staff and members of the association's Homeowner Outreach Program Committee participated in meetings and helped the CFPB develop its resources. The tools include a two-minute video that provides four steps to protect against mortgage scams.  

Here are the tips the CFPB provides to help consumers avoid being scammed:

  • Identify two trusted individuals to confirm the closing process and payment instructions. Ahead of your mortgage closing, discuss in person, or by phone, the closing process and money transfer protocols with these trusted individuals (realtor, settlement agent, etc.). Be cautious about exchanging any details about your closing over email. You may want to use this opportunity to also create a code phrase, known only by these trusted parties, if you need a secure way to confirm their identities in the future. 
  • Write down their names and contact information. Use the Bureau’s Mortgage Closing Checklist  to list these individuals and their primary phone numbers.
  • Before wiring money, always confirm instructions with your trusted representatives. Never follow instructions contained in an email. Verify the closing instructions, including the account name and number, with your trusted representatives either in person or by using the phone number you previously agreed to.
  • Avoid using phone numbers or links in an email. Again, scammers can closely replicate the email address, phone number and format of an exchange from your agents. Avoid clicking on any links or downloading attachments without first confirming with your trusted representatives.
  • Do NOT email financial information. Email is never a secure way to send financial information. 
  • Be mindful of phone conversations. It may be difficult to identify whether a phone call is fraudulent or legitimate. Scammers may call and ask you to verify your personal or financial information. When in doubt, always refer to your trusted professionals to confirm whether it’s legitimate. 

What to do if it happens to you

  • Contact your bank or wire-transfer company immediately. Ask for a wire recall. Reporting the error as soon as possible can increase the likelihood that you’ll be able to recover your money.
  • File a complaint with the FBI. Contact the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov.
ALTA Resources

Two years ago, ALTA developed a video educating consumers about the threat of wire fraud schemes. The video, which has been viewed more than 65,000 times, provides four tips to protect money during a real estate transaction and advice for what to do if a consumer has been targeted by a scam.

In addition, ALTA produced an infographic that members can download and brand with their company logo and information. Go to ALTAprints.com to customize the infographic.

Click here for additional wire fraud resources, including a Rapid Response Plan for Wire Fraud Incidents.


Contact ALTA at 202-296-3671 or communications@alta.org.

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