Recognize

Real estate or mortgage scams come in many forms. These types of scams are described as:

  • Fraud against a consumer trying to refinance their mortgage or modify their home, or who is in foreclosure.
  • A scammer illegally transferring property to their name and renting out the property without knowledge of the owner.
  • Housing (rentals or purchases) posted on the internet that does not exist as described.
  • Fake rental ads or real ads stolen and advertised by a perpetrator.
  • A scammer using someone else’s personal information to open a mortgage.
  • A lender selling mortgages with incorrect information, misleading practices, or coercive sales tactics.

If you think you have experienced any of these real estate or mortgage scams, we recommend that you act immediately by following our guidelines below, and then proceed to our ReportRecover, and Reinforce sections for further assistance.

Some Immediate Action Steps to Take

  • Collect all relevant documentation related to the scam and keep them in a secure file. You may need to provide this documentation when you file a report.
  • If you have wired money or made a payment and suspect it is a scam, contact your financial institution and/or the money service you used right away.
    • You can reach the complaint department of MoneyGram at 1-800-MONEYGRAM (1-800-666-3947) or Western Union at 1-800-448-1492.
      • If you suspect that a friend or family member is being victimized as a result of fraud, you can file an interdiction request which will block that person from transacting with Western Union. Send an email request to BeFraudSmart@westernunion.com.
  • File a police report with your local law enforcement agency.
  • For mortgage fraud help, call the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau at 855-411-2372 or submit a complaint online.
  • Contact your State Consumer Protection Office for help.

Report

Report Fraudulent Listings to the Site Where the Ad was Posted

Recover

These resources have been gathered, selected and vetted to help simplify the process of recovering after a cybercrime incident has taken place. You may need to contact organizations outside FightCybercrime.org. Results will vary depending on your circumstances.

Reinforce

Once you have notified the appropriate organizations and you are on the road to recovery, it is time to reinforce your cybersecurity using these resources and tools.

Implement Preventative Measures

  • Check your credit report regularly for any suspicious activity. For a free copy of your credit report go to annualcreditreport.com.
  • Don’t share your Social Security number unless absolutely necessary — provide alternative information when possible.
  • Avoid giving out your Social Security number or other private information over the phone unless you initiated the contact or have already established trust.
  • When signing the paperwork, make sure you read through all documents thoroughly and understand the terms. If you don’t understand, ask questions.
  • Be cautious of anyone who makes guarantees to stop a foreclosure, asks for money up front, or tells you to make your mortgage payments to them. These are all signs of a scam.
  • Be sure websites are secure before submitting your Social Security number or personal information. Find out how to spot a fake website.
  • If the person renting or selling the property will NOT send you pictures, let you see it in person, and talk to you on the phone, it is probably a scam.
  • DO NOT send money to someone unless you can confirm they are real and have a real property for you to rent/buy.
  • Download our Six Steps to Better Security PDF.

Community Resources