Internet crime: How to protect yourself and your real estate business

By Kelly Leighton | May 23, 2018 | 2 min. read

Pennsylvania was one of the top ten states by the number of victims of internet crime in 2017, according to a recent report from the FBI.

Pennsylvania landed in fifth place, with 11,348 victims last year. Across the country, internet crime cost victims more than $1.4 billion in 2017, and real estate and rental crime cost victims more than $56 million.

To protect yourself, Philadelphia FBI Media Coordinator and Public Affairs Specialist Carrie Adamowski recommended practicing good “cyber hygiene” at home and at work, as well as using common sense. “Don’t click on a link in an unsolicited email, and remember that if an online opportunity seems too good to be true, it probably is,” said Adamowski. “Remain vigilant to keep yourself, your family and your colleagues safe online. Learn about old and new cyber schemes via the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center.”

For real estate and rental internet crimes, Adamowski said the most common are business email compromise scams. “The business email compromise is a sophisticated scam targeting businesses that regularly perform wire transfer payments and/or work with foreign entities. The email account compromise, a business email compromise variant, targets the general public, as well as professionals associated with real estate companies, financial institutions, law firms and the like. Both scams typically involve one or more fraudsters who compromise legitimate business email accounts through social engineering or computer intrusion techniques in order to conduct unauthorized transfers of funds,” she said.

“People who believe they may be a victim of an online crime, regardless of the dollar amount, are encouraged to file a complaint through IC3. They should also take steps to mitigate any further loss, such as contacting banks, credit card companies and/or credit bureaus to block accounts, freeze accounts, dispute charges or attempt recovery of lost funds. Victims should be diligent in reviewing credit reports to dispute any unauthorized transactions, and they may also consider credit monitoring services,” added Adamowski. 

For more information on protecting yourself online, Adamowski recommended Stay Safe Online from the National Cyber Security Alliance, which she described as “a great and user-friendly compendium of online safety info and tips,” along with CyberSecure My Business, a national program that helps small and medium-sized businesses learn how to be safer and more secure online.

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