Quite regularly our trainers are privy to the concerns of agents throughout New South Wales, however the issues of concern are not limited to only occurrences in NSW. Fraud in particular, is not only a NSW issue.
In Western Australia, two recent frauds have had an impact on the property management industry.
One case involved an international arrival to Perth who was staying at a hotel awaiting confirmation of the rental property at the time the alleged scammer struck. The victim made several payments to the scammer amounting to $13,100, but was told that the COVID-19 outbreak had caused a delay in having the keys delivered.
In the second instance, a woman who was relocating to Perth from a regional area paid $10,400 after she believed she had been contacted by the property manager from a real estate agency. She also provided personal and financial information and identification documents to the email recipient. Unfortunately, this money was not forwarded to the real estate agency, but to a fraudster.
In the reports of these cases, the victims were contacted by email from a person identifying themselves as the property manager dealing with the subject properties. While there is no confirmation as to the method of email contact, whether an agency email account was hacked and the correspondence sent from the agency account or if a mirror email account was set up to action this fraudulent activity, it is still the agency’s responsibility to endeavour to reduce the risk of cyber fraud.
So how does an agency protect itself, as well as its consumers, from these types of attacks?
While we have limited power over emails that mirror our own, we do have some control over educating our agents about how to protect the agency from within. Unexpected emails, requests for changes to bank details, texts, phone calls and social media updates can all present opportunities for this type of cybercrime.
Essentially, the objectives are to either cause difficulties to an organisation or individuals or obtain further data for fraudulent use.
The way this can come about is by staff (and systems):
If your agency employs a practice of questioning (thinking before acting) coupled with encouraging the use of the Rental Bonds Online service that is available and strongly recommended by NSW Fair Trading, your agency can significantly reduce the risks of cyber crime that could have an impact not only on your agency but also on your customers.