Escrow.com provides a safe way to transact online although as with all online financial transactions, there are several risks you need to be aware about, and precautionary measures you can take to ensure your safety online.
Warning signs when using an escrow site and in general
We do not belong to any escrow consortiums or similar organizations except for the Escrow Association of California and the Internet Commerce Association. Any other escrow site that claims to be affiliated with Escrow.com is making a fraudulent claim.
At Escrow.com, we work collaboratively with the Internet Crime Complaint Center, a multi-agency task force comprised of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C), and the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) which aims to mitigate cyber crime activity.
Always take precautionary measures when accessing any website, including escrow sites. Fraudsters often use a variety of excuses for why they cannot use Escrow.com. Often, those who recommend you use a particular escrow site are part of a scam, and those escrow sites may not be legitimate. If you choose to use a different escrow service, the following points may help keep you from becoming a victim:
- Fraud sites often claim they are associated with Escrow.com. However, Escrow.com is not associated with or affiliated with any other escrow site.
- Many sites claim their escrow services are provided by Internet Escrow Services, Inc. (IES). This is because IES can be verified to be an independent escrow company licensed in California. However, Internet Escrow Services (IES) is the entity which owns and operates Escrow.com and only provides escrow services for Escrow.com.
- If another site looks similar to Escrow.com, it is likely fraudulent. A legitimate company will spend the time and effort to create their own brand and will not steal the work of other companies.
- Fraud sites often claim they are recommended by eBay, eBay Motors, or Yahoo! Auctions.
- You should call the customer support number (if any) on the site. If there is no phone number on the site, or if you can't reach the company, it could indicate the site is fraudulent. Consider whether you want to entrust your transaction to a company you can't reach on the phone.
- Do a search for the company name on Google (or similar search engine). Established companies will generally be listed. Fly-by-night companies will not generally be on the list.
- See if the web address of the escrow site is registered with the Better Business Bureau by entering it in their search form.
- Determining the date that a domain name was registered can often give clues that a site is fraudulent. Many fraudulent sites claim that they have been in operation for several years, however their domain names have only been registered for a few days or weeks. To determine the date a domain name was registered, you can use the WHOIS tool found at most domain name registrars.
- If a site uses person-to-person money transfers such as Western Union, it is possibly fraudulent. See what Western Union says about fraudulent escrow services by clicking here.
- If the escrow site requests payment to an individual (or "agent") instead of a corporate entity, it is fraudulent.
- If the site does not use SSL to protect user sign-in information, it is not a secure site and is most likely fraudulent. Most browsers display a padlock or similar symbol in their status bar to show you when your information is being protected by SSL. However, having a SSL certificate is no evidence that a site is legitimate.
- Be wary of sites that have escrow fees that are unreasonably low.
- Being licensed as an independent escrow company is not a trivial procedure. Licensing is required by the laws of several US states in order to perform transactions in those states. One of the key states requiring licensing is California. If a site does not clearly state how it is licensed, it is probably not licensed. If a site lists licensing information, it should list the licensing authority. Contact the licensing authorities listed on the site and verify the site is actually licensed by those authorities. Be cautious on the validation. Several fraud sites have in the past given out the legitimate license number of Internet Escrow Services, Inc. (the entity that owns and operates Escrow.com). To find out where we are licensed, click here.
- Spelling errors, grammar problems, broken links, and inconsistent information (such as the location of the escrow company) are usually additional indicators the site is fraudulent.
Email fraud and phishing
Fraudulent email activity is increasing. These emails may appear to be from legitimate companies that you do business with - such as your bank, an online auction site, or your Internet service provider. You are often asked to validate or confirm your personal information by sending a reply, clicking on a link, or opening an attachment. These messages can contain viruses designed to record your keystrokes. These emails can also direct you to counterfeit websites that appear to be genuine. If you suspect that an email that appears to be from Escrow.com is not legitimate, please contact our telephone support team here.
If you believe you have been a victim of fraud, you should:
- Contact Escrow.com immediately to notify us of fraudulent activity that has occurred on our website so that we can investigate the activity
- Report the site and the person that recommended the site. Reporting the fraud site to the proper authorities can help investigators track down and prosecute those responsible for the fraud. It can also help to warn other potential victims and help close down the fraudulent site.
- Determine your exposure to identity theft if you have provided any personal or financial information to the person recommending the fraud site.
- If you shipped merchandise, you should immediately contact the carrier and see if they can stop shipment of the merchandise. Most carriers also have a fraud investigations department you can ask to become involved in attempting to recover the merchandise.
- If you sent money via ACH, wire transfer, or check (cheque), you should immediately contact your financial institution to see if a hold can be put on the transfer of the funds and to see what other steps may be necessary to protect your account. You should also ask your financial institution to investigate and report the fraud.
- If you sent money to the site via Western Union money transfers, call the Western Union Customer Service number at 1-800-448-1492 and tell the customer service representative that you wish to report a fraud involving a Western Union money transfer; or complete their online fraud complaint form.
How Escrow.com protects you
With Escrow.com, every step in your transaction is verified with proven tracking and verification procedures. If the merchandise is fraudulent, it gives the Buyer the chance to return it to the Seller without funds being released.
- Escrow.com tracks and verifies delivery of the shipped merchandise.
- The Seller isn't paid until the Buyer accepts the merchandise, or the agreed upon inspection period expires.
- Escrow.com verifies delivery of merchandise to the Buyer via the online trackable shipping that the Seller provides to Escrow.com.
- The Seller is notified to ship after Escrow.com verifies good funds.
For further reading and how you can protect yourself on Escrow.com, make sure you visit our Fraud Information FAQ's