In today’s digital world, scammers are constantly finding new ways to take advantage of others. One such method is to fraudulently impersonate someone else by “spoofing” and/or “phishing.” Spoofing is a means by which a scammer is able to forge or imitate the identity of someone else. Subsequently, they may use the spoofed identity to trick others into handing over valuable private information, known as phishing.  Real estate transactions can be tempting targets for would-be scammers, due to the large amounts of money moving back and forth between parties, so what steps can we take to keep ourselves and our private information safe?
First, you can take preventative steps, such as keeping your technology up-to-date, investing in security software, and enabling multi-factor authentication whenever possible. Proactive steps such as these can prevent someone from spoofing your emails, text messages, or other communication platforms.
To protect yourself from phishers’ attempts at gaining your information, a few options exist:
- “Never give out personal or financial information in response to unsolicited emails;”
- “Look for phishing clues;”
- “Check your credit card and bank account statements regularly;” and
- “Install anti-virus and firewall software.”
It is important to be mindful of who sends you emails or other communications. Oftentimes, “phishing emails are designed to look like they come from a reputable company,” however, there may be slight errors in the company name or other clues that can alert you that something is off. In fact, most “legitimate companies won’t email or text with a link [concerning] your payment information.” If an email asks you to click on a link or provide any payment information, proceed with caution. For more information, the New York State Attorney General’s Office website hosts valuable resources for identifying and avoiding spam emails.
If you do fall victim to a phisher, the incident can be reported to the New York State Attorney General’s Office at “email@example.com.” Furthermore, the NYPD invites victims who have lost money to a phisher to report the crime to their local precinct. You can’t go wrong by reporting to both city and state authorities, so that they can protect you from any further harm and possibly provide you with some type of remedy.
Even those who diligently keep an eye out for phishers may fall victim to such fraudulent activity. Many of us may even be able to recall a family member or friend’s family member who fell victim to a phishing scheme in the past. However, by taking some preventative steps, we can increase our chances resisting attempted fraud.
 Phishing Information, Office of the New York State Attorney General, https://ag.ny.gov/internet/phishing-information (last visited Nov. 1, 2022).
 How to Recognize and Avoid Phishing Scams, FTC Consumer Advice (Sept. 2022), https://consumer.ftc.gov/articles/how-recognize-and-avoid-phishing-scams.
 Office of the New York State Attorney General, supra note 1.
 FTC Consumer Advice, supra note 4.
 NYPD Raises Awareness About the Risk of Phone Scams, NYC.gov (April 30, 2019), https://www1.nyc.gov/site/nypd/news/pr0430/nypd-raises-awareness-the-risk-phone-scams#/0.