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How Agents Can Protect Themselves from Email Scams

cybersecurity 1Members of the San Francisco Association of REALTORS® (SFAR) were the targets of a phishing attack last week. Agents received an email that, at first glance, appeared to be from the association and prompted recipients to download a malicious file disguised as an invoice.

The message was the latest in a string of phishing attempts aimed at real estate professionals. In fact, just last year, NAR issued a warning against an email scam that attempted to get buyers to wire money to a fraudulent bank account. The Federal Trade Commission and the Better Business Bureau have issued similar warnings recently, as well, and the message is clear: agents need to be alert and on guard.

How to Spot a Fake Email

Even if you're technologically savvy, that doesn't mean you're immune to falling for a phishing attack or email scam. The SFAR email, for example, was a convincing fake, going so far as to "spoof" or make the email appear like it came from the association's servers, thus making it more likely that trusting Realtors would download the malicious file.

So if email scams today are growing increasingly sophisticated, how can agents discern which are real and which are fake? Well, while the SFAR email looked like a convincing fake, there were a couple of "tells" that gave the spammers away. Let's break down what the SFAR phishers did wrong so we can better learn how to spot fake messages in the future.

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