How to Recognize a Realtor Scam Before Falling Into a Trap
Real estate agents are pretty savvy when it comes to detecting something strange. After all, they constantly need to be on their toes by balancing appointments, finding leads, and closing deals. But, nowadays, they also need to be on the lookout.
One thing that agents consistently express concern about is the rise of scams. If you’re able to detect a scam, great for you, but if you’re ever unsure or feel as though you can’t keep up with the different types of scams that exist, here’s what you can do:
What Scams to Look Out For
In real estate, there are many types of scams that realtors have reported, but the most common are phishing scams. An example of a phishing scam is when the scammer creates a fake text message using logos or templates from platforms like Zillow or Trulia to make you think you have a legitimate lead. They’ll send you a text with information, and if you return that text, they can easily take your sensitive information or even coerce you into giving money. This is very common.
In addition to strange text messages, other scams which are frequently reported are those which occur via email. If you’ve received an email in your inbox from a person asking for help selling their home and there’s something unusual about it, then it could also be a phishing scam. You can search the email address it came from and see if it leads back to something. Like text messages, many of these emails look so real that they are hard to detect. So, if you happen to open one, be wary before clicking on links included in the email. If a person is reaching out to you for help, there should be no reason for them to include links in the email anyway, so this is a good way to determine whether or not that email is a scam.
Of course, scams can also come in the form of direct mail and phone calls. Remember, anytime someone is asking you for money or telling you that you need to pay something, it’s probably a scam. The bottom line is, if you know that you don’t owe money to anyone or anything, then you probably don’t. Again, try to look online to compare mailing addresses and phone numbers to see if there are any inconsistencies between the information you have in your hand and a credible source online.
Check for Inconsistencies
If you’re unsure whether or not something is a scam, there are a few things you can ask yourself:
- Are there grammatical errors in the email? Of course, sometimes you’ll get emails from people who are not native English speakers. But, there’s a big difference between someone trying to write well in English, and someone just trying to scam you.
- Is the email too perfect? It’s one thing for there to be many grammatical errors, but it’s another when the email is so clean, it seems as though it was fed through an automated writing system.
- Are there signs of copying and pasting? If the size, font, or style of the text is inconsistent with the rest of the email, then that’s not a good sign. But, it is a sign that the hacker got lazy!
- Is someone asking you to pay for money in order to see information on a lead? As mentioned before, this is almost definitely scam and most often been reported as coming from fake Realtor.com and Movoto sites.
What Happens if You Fall For a Scam
It may seem that simply replying to a text or an email — even if it is a scam — won’t do you any harm. But, that’s not true. These days, it’s so easy for hackers to get your information. Even opening an email from someone with bad intentions could make your data vulnerable to prying eyes. If you do fall for a scam, unfortunately, there might not be much you can do. But, you can help yourself and help the next person from falling for the same thing. Therefore, always make sure you report a scam when you see one.
Ask for Help
If you’re ever unsure as to whether or not an email, a call, a listing — or whatever else it may be — is a scam, don’t be afraid to ask for help. It’s understandable that you may feel a bit embarrassed or uncomfortable asking someone else’s opinion on the matter. But, there’s no need to be worried, because ultimately, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Trust Your Gut
At the end of the day, if you have to question whether or not something is a scam, then it probably is. You wouldn’t be questioning it if there wasn’t something that didn’t sit right with you. Everything you do within your business should have a recognizable pattern to it, and it should be quite clear whether or not something is legitimate. Don’t spend time chasing something down that may not be what it seems.
Have you ever fallen for a scam? Or, is there a new scam out there that we don’t know about? Help out your fellow LCA’s and let us know!