RE/MAX Canada is aware of – and extremely vigilant in combating – scams that affect RE/MAX agents and consumers. Unfortunately, these scams are all too common. Phishing scams are not just a RE/MAX problem; they have a much broader impact, especially in the real estate industry. If you receive a suspicious email, do not click any of its links.
Communications that appear to come from a RE/MAX agent, aren’t always what they seem. Phishing scams often will attempt to catch recipients off guard, and in some cases they accomplish this by making it appear a malicious email is coming from a colleague.
If you receive emails from RE/MAX agents that appear suspicious, please trust your instincts. First search for the agent’s profile in the RE/MAX Web Roster. If the agent appears there, think about giving him or her a call to verify their attempt at contacting you via email. It’s a preventative measure that can save you headaches, and in extreme cases, considerable damage to your database.
“Phishing” is an attempt by spammers to gain your personal information via email with the intention of stealing your identity.
Scam emails attempt to lure victims into responding to an email or clicking on a link, usually in order to get money, install malware, or get personal information. The most common types of scams are:
- Business opportunities (work-at-home schemes)
- Health and diet
- Easy money (foreign lotteries, advance free fraud or investment schemes)
- Free goods
- Guaranteed loans or credit
Here are some guidelines to help you avoid falling victim to the ever-growing industry of phishing emails.
- Check the email address the message was sent from. If it looks like a replica of an official email, and you are not sure, do not click on it. For example, a large bank would not send customer emails from an AOL or MSN email address.
- Misspellings are a key red flag.
- Things that are not professional, or do not align with RE/MAX culture.
- Read the message several times and decide whether it makes sense. If it does not make sense then more than likely it is a scam. Calling the company the email claims to be from helps clarify any doubts.
- If the offer sounds too good to be true, then it probably is not a valid offer.
- Generic Introductions such as Dear Customer, which indicate that the sender does not know you.
- Alarming or urgent statements advising you to respond immediately.
- Never click on a link or provide username/password info from within an email.
- Hover the mouse over links and look at the target address. If it’s not the same website as the email claims to go to, then it’s a fake; do not click on it.
- If you’ve clicked on a suspicious link, immediately run PC protection software (Norton, Symantec, etc.). This will remove any potential malicious software. Also, change your passwords after running the protection software, because if there was a key logger installed it will have captured the current password.
- Legitimate companies can send you directly to their secure site, which is difficult to hack and monitored frequently. However, if there is doubt, don’t follow any links or instructions.
- Keep your internet browser up to date. Most browsers contain anti-phish software that protects users from accessing sites that are on their phishing lists.
- Use caution when clicking on links within an email. Instead, type the web address in a web browser or use your bookmarks/shortcuts. Use the web address you normally use to access the site, not the address the email provides.
- Make sure your computers firewall is turned on and that you use antivirus software, which should also be regularly updated.