Wire fraud is on the rise, with scammers using email phishing to lure their targets. It’s particularly attractive to them, because they receive the money much faster with wire transfers than they would with Automated Clearing House (ACH) payments or checks. Plus, once you send a wire transfer, it’s very difficult—and, at times, not possible—to get your money back from the receiving financial institution. Here’s what you need to know about wire fraud.
Common Wire Transfer Fraud Scenarios
Since wire transfers are typically used to move large sums of money, scammers often target individuals who might be in a situation to make a big purchase.
One popular method of this scam targets homebuyers as they enter the closing phase of their purchasing journey. Posing as a real estate agent, bank or other legitimate contact, the scammer requests a transfer of funds to cover closing, titling or other home-buying costs. Unfortunately, the transfer instructions send the money to the scammer's bank account, conning their target out of those funds.
Scammers aren’t only focused on homebuyers, though. They’ve been known to pose as vendors, colleagues and other known contacts to fool people into transferring money.
How to Safeguard Yourself
The very best way to protect yourself from a scam like this is to call your bank, realtor or whoever supposedly sent the email directly to verify they made the request and that information like routing numbers are correct. Don’t use the phone numbers in the email, though; use numbers from your statements, contract or other documents you know to be legitimate.
Beyond that, look for classic signs of phishing—like those below—that can tip off a fraudulent request.
- Be cautious about any email requesting a wire transfer of funds—even if it appears to come from a legitimate source.
- Double check the email address for anything suspicious; hover your mouse over the “From” address. If it’s something like firstname.lastname@example.org or it’s from a general email address like Gmail or Yahoo, it’s likely from a scammer.
- Pay close attention to the body of the email for spelling errors or generally poor writing.
If you believe you may have transferred funds to a fraudulent account, please contact Navy Federal immediately at 1-888-842-6328. Call us collect internationally at 703-255-8837. Visit our Security Center to learn about other ways to protect your information and accounts.
This content is intended to provide general information and shouldn't be considered legal, tax or financial advice. It's always a good idea to consult a tax or financial advisor for specific information on how certain laws apply to your situation and about your individual financial situation.