10 Tips to Avoid Online Escrow Fraud
- The easiest and best way to avoid becoming a victim of
an online escrow scam is to call the California Department
of Business Oversight toll-free at 1-866-275-
2677 to make sure the escrow company you plan to use is
- Never disclose financial or personal information like
your Social Security number, credit card number, or bank
account information until you have verified that the online
escrow company you are using is properly Licensed.
- A buyer or seller who insists on using a particular online
escrow company is probably trying to steer you towards a
fraudulent escrow services site.
- Watch out for escrow company sites that don't have an
address and phone number listed. If the site does list a
phone number, call the number and be sure you speak to a
live person. A generic voice mail is a sign that the company
may be fraudulent.
- Send the escrow company an e-mail question. If you don't
receive a response, don't do business with them.
- Sometimes a phony escrow company Web site can be detected
by its sloppy content, with spelling and grammar errors
and inconsistent information. Other times, the site's information
may have been copied from legitimate escrow company sites.
- Find out how the online escrow service processes transactions.
Steer clear of sites that don't process their own, but require
users to set up accounts with online payment services instead.
Legitimate escrow companies don't use person-to-person money
transfers like Western Union or MoneyGram or direct you
to send your payment to an individual rather than a corporate
- Fake escrow company sites often display logos from the
Better Business Bureau, VeriSign Secure, TRUSTe, and even
the Internet Fraud Complaint Center. Check to make sure
the escrow company really is endorsed by these organizations.
- Avoid escrow company sites with domain names ending in
.org, .biz, .cc, .info., or .US.
- Be wary of a seemingly terrific deal. Scammers post online
classified ads and offer items via online auction with very
low prices. Remember, these so-called "deals"
are just the hook to get you to use a phony escrow company