The threat of cybercrime for real estate agents

Cybercrime has become a major threat over recent years and scams are on the rise. While some scams look obvious, others are difficult to recognise due to their convincing nature with how cunning cybercriminals can be. The property industry in particular has become a prime target and it is evident extra security measures are essential to keep real estate agents and their clients safe.

The threat of cybercrime and scams

In April, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) Scamwatch revealed 2022 was a record year for scams. Australians lost a total $3.1 billion – an 80% increase to the financial loss recorded in 2021. This figure was concluded from scams reported across multiple sources, including ACCC Scamwatch, ReportCyber, the Australian Financial Crimes Exchange (AFCX), and others.

From January to June 2023, Scamwatch has recorded over 156,000 scams and more than $286 million in financial loss. The greatest portion of financial loss is from investment scams, with phishing the top scam category currently being reported. Scammers continue to target the more vulnerable age group of over 65-year-olds, with this demographic losing over $66 million in the first half of this year. 55 – 64-year-olds follow closely with over $62 million lost in the same period.  

The risk for real estate agents

With the property industry now an area of focus, hackers are becoming progressively smarter with their ability to phish sensitive information and intercept real estate agents’ emails. Real estate agents’ often handle money on behalf of others and store sensitive information, such as account details and client documents. With cybercriminals having the ability to hack to agents’ emails, they are managing to update account details where deposit funds are transferred into. This information is being sent to clients, which appears legitimate as it is coming from the agents’ email, however it results in deposits being redirected into fraudulent bank accounts.

A Western Australian real estate agent recently fell victim to a phone scam and lost nearly $330,000, and examples of this continue to rise in the industry. Exchanging sensitive information by email and SMS may leave real estate agents vulnerable to hacking, which can have significant damage on their reputation. Innovative technology, such as Securexchange, supports secure transactions, so agents and their clients have peace of mind that funds and documents are safe.  

Supporting secure property transactions

Securexchange is an award-winning platform that provides protection from cybercrime. Real estate agents are connected with all stakeholders involved in a property transaction in one secure workspace where confidential information and trust fund details can be shared, and contracts are signed and exchanged. The digital platform provides transparency and efficiency throughout the transaction and keeps sensitive information protected. This supports sales to be completed quicker and more securely than ever before. 

It also provides peace of mind to all users with its ability to block external threats and client funds are protected for up to $1 million when details are shared within the platform.

Cyber Security Awareness Training

If you’re a real estate agent looking to learn more about protecting your business from cybercrime, Securexchange also offers complimentary Cyber Security Awareness Training. The training modules support you to gain awareness of:

• How to identify fraudulent activity
• How to protect yourself from hacking attempts
• What to do if your business is hacked

The training is currently available in Queensland and Victoria, with the opportunity to gain CPD points. 

Protect yourself and your clients with Securexchange