In today’s rapidly advancing digital age, we’ve witnessed numerous technological breakthroughs that have revolutionised our lives. However, alongside these innovations, we must remain vigilant as they have also provided new avenues for con artists to exploit unsuspecting individuals. Property scams, in particular, have become more prevalent, especially with the shift in working routines due to the pandemic. To ensure your safety and financial security, we present you with 12 essential tips to stay protected from property scams:
- Work with Licensed Estate Agents: Whether you are a buyer or seller, always ensure that your estate agent is registered with the Estate Agency Affairs Board and possesses a valid Fidelity Fund Certificate. This document is crucial as it ensures your agent is authorised to conduct real estate transactions for the current year. Verify all banking details before making any payments.
- Beware of Intercepted Emails: Scammers may hack or spoof email accounts of individuals involved in property transactions. Be cautious of email requests to wire funds to unfamiliar accounts. Always confirm payment details through secure channels, such as in-person or verified telephone conversations.
- Watch Out for Fraudulent Buyers: Be cautious of buyers who approach you privately, expressing keen interest in purchasing your property. Verify all documents thoroughly before signing anything, as fraudsters may trick you into selling to them while posing as genuine buyers.
- Guard Against Identity Theft: Criminals may steal identity details to obtain credit accounts and even home loans in your name. Stay vigilant and report any suspicious activity to the relevant authorities immediately.
- Avoid Bait-and-Switch Schemes: Some buyers may lure sellers with above-market-value offers, only to renegotiate for a lower price later, causing financial strain and uncertainty for the seller.
- Double-Check Listings: Be cautious when dealing with rental listings that seem too good to be true. Scammers often copy legitimate listings and advertise them at significantly lower prices to dupe unsuspecting renters.
- Verify Rental Agents: When dealing with rental agents, ensure they are legitimate and have proper credentials. Scammers may pose as agents to swindle money from hopeful renters.
- Be Wary of High-Pressure Tactics: Scammers may rush you into making decisions or sending money. Always take your time and conduct due diligence before proceeding with any transaction.
- Investigate Foreign Buyers/Sellers: Exercise caution when dealing with foreign buyers or sellers who display signs of haste or lack of interest in viewing the property in person.
- Know Market-Related Prices: Familiarise yourself with market-related prices in your desired area. If a deal appears too good to be true, investigate further before proceeding.
- Verify Contact Information: Always contact the official office of an estate agency to confirm the legitimacy of a property listing before making any payments.
- Never Pay Deposits without Viewing: Always view a property in person before paying any deposits. Scammers may stall or provide excuses to avoid showing the property.
Remember, your best defence against property scams is knowledge and awareness. By staying informed and following these guidelines, you can safeguard yourself against potential fraud and ensure a secure real estate transaction.
At ESI Attorneys, we prioritize your safety and provide expert guidance throughout your property purchase or sale. Let us help you navigate the complex landscape of conveyancing and avoid falling victim to scams.
Stay safe and informed!