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Getting your email hacked can happen to any of us, and it can be alarming. The most popular way people realize that their email has been hacked is when a friend or family member lets them know that they received a strange email from them.

Email hackers target the public to take money from them fraudulently. One popular way they take people’s money is by getting unauthorized access to your email account and sending an email to your contacts. The email may state that you are on vacation overseas and suddenly need help and money – could they please send money right away to the mentioned account.

Unaware that it wasn’t really you who sent the email, and because it seems like a legitimate email from you, some contacts do send money to the fraudsters.

If you ever recognize that your personal email has been hacked, do these six things to mitigate risk:

1.   Change your email password right away – Log into your email provider’s web mail portal and go to your account settings. Typically, there is a Security section where you have the option to change your password. Choose a new, strong password that does not resemble the previous one.

  • If you no longer have access to the account, use the ‘Forgot Password’ option to create a new one and recover access to your account.
  • If you used this password in other sites/accounts, change those passwords as well and don’t use the same password in multiple sites.

2.   Review your account Settings – Review your settings, including your login history, contacts, linked Mail accounts, Signatures, Mail Forwarding, Banned Addresses, and Filters; delete anything that you don’t recognize.

3.    Scan for Viruses, Malware, and Spyware – There is a possibility that your computer/laptop may have contracted a virus, malware, and/or spyware in the process. Running a virus scan like Norton, Kaspersky, Avast, and AVG is highly recommended. Additionally, running anti-malware software, such as Malwarebytes, has shown great results extracting these malicious infections.

4.   Alert your contacts – Use another medium to let your contacts know that your email has been hacked (text message, phone, a different email address) and request that if they recently received an email from you, they delete it without opening it, clicking on any links or downloading attachments. If you are sending an email, the Email Subject should be a warning that grabs the reader’s attention. For example: Please do not open any emails from XXX date to XXX date. (You may even want to send them this list of helpful tips).

5.   Report the hack to your provider – Different providers have different methods for reporting these incidents; search their website for their instructions.

6.   Continue to monitor your email, financials, and other sensitive information – Over the years, you may have sent sensitive information which may still be in your email history. Hackers could have accessed it. Continue to monitor carefully the activity on your credit cards, including your real estate transactions and other sensitive areas, to ensure no one else is accessing them.

How did this happen to me?
There are multiple ways it could have happened. One possible way is that your email was hacked while you accessed your email using a public Wi-Fi. A common approach that hackers use is called Evil Twin, and it works like this: Say you are at your favorite local coffee shop named “Strong Joe”, and you want to take advantage of their free Wi-Fi. What hackers will do is set up a second hotspot in that location, naming it similar to the authentic hotspot for that business. For example: The authentic hotspot for the business may be “Strong Joe,” while the hacker’s hotspot may be “Strong Joe FASTEST.” Sometimes business patrons will not notice that there are more than two hotspots with the name, and inadvertently use the hotspot that is set up by the hackers. While using the hotspot trap that hackers created, you may decide to log into your email and catch up with work, friends or family. When you do this, the hacker’s hotspot can grab the email’s security packets, which contain your credentials. And there you have it. You’ve been hacked without realizing it.

Should I stop using public hotspots?
Not necessarily – just be careful when logging into free, Wi-Fi hotspots. Ask an employee for the correct Service Set Identifier (SSID) and password so that you are not inadvertently using one that a hacker has set up, and use public hot spots only for web browsing – not for online shopping, banking or accessing anything that requires entering your user name and password.

Beyond the Personal Email Hack: Reporting Real Estate Fraud
In addition to the email scams that the general population can experience, real estate professionals are also vulnerable to professional fraud when their emails get hacked because real estate transactions often require the transfer of significant sums of money. These types of scams are more sophisticated than what the general public will experience, and rather than covering the details in this article, we will provide you the link to a video that the National Association of REALTORS has created to educate REALTORS on this issue.

WATCH THIS VIDEO about Cyber scams targeting the real estate industry.

This video will show you prevention, damage control, as well as two identifiable areas of fraud in the real estate industry. We highly recommend you watch it and follow their recommendations.

As always, if you have any doubts, or wish to make sure you have followed all these steps above correctly; please be sure to contact us via phone at (877) 562-3156 or online chat.

Contributions to this article were made by Marcos Zayas, Tech Helpline Team

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Effective April 25, 2016, the CRMLS Rules and Regulations and Citation Policy was updated and published on both OCAR's website and the CRMLS website. Below is a list of the changes:

  • Section 7.12 Withdrawal of Listing Prior to Expiration has been revised to require that a listing must be withdrawn by listing agent if seller instructs withdrawal in writing and that it may be withdrawn by listing agent in instances of a dispute with seller 48 hours after listing agent provides seller with notice of intent to withdraw. The MLS can require listing agent to produce a copy of notice of dispute or written instruction from the seller. There is an ongoing obligation to report solds. 

  • Section 7.18.3 Auction Listings has been revised to disallow right of reservation auctions because by their no minimum bid/ “confidential” reserve amount nature, they don’t fit MLS requirements requiring disclosure of an actual list price. Reference to compensation in the auction rule has also been removed since rules governing the offer of compensation are already set forth elsewhere in the MLS Rules. 

  • Section 8.3 Accuracy of Information; Responsibility for Accuracy has been revised to give the MLS the right to remove a listing that has been flagged for inaccuracy when an agent has refused or failed to correct. 

  • Section 9.9 Physical Presence of Participant or Subscriber has been revised to clarify that a participant or subscriber must be “physically” present when providing access to a property. 

  • Section 10.1 Statuses has been revised to change the title “Back-Up” to the RESO (Real Estate Standards Organization) “master” heading of “Active Under Contract.” [*Note: correlating language changes also made to Section 10.2 Reporting of Sales.] 

  • Section 11.10 Indemnification; Limitation of Liability has been added to provide a broad stand-alone indemnity provision. 

  • Section 12.22 Email Address Required; An Email Address requirement has been added as a new provision.

If you have any questions about these changes, feel free to contact our MLS Department for assistance.

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Upcoming OCAR Events and Fundraisers

May 12 - REALTOR® Summit with Mike Ferry

June 29 - Broker Summit: The Future of MLS in the Age of Zillow

August 5 - OCAR Palooza to benefit OCAR Cares

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Mission Viejo – On Tuesday evening, the Mission Viejo City Council voted to approve a resolution in support of the Housing Futures Initiative developed by the Building Industry Association/Orange County Chapter (BIA/OC) in collaboration with the Orange County Business Council and the Orange County Association of REALTORS®.

The purpose of this initiative is to find ways to make available additional housing across a broad spectrum of price ranges as a means of encouraging both businesses and employees to locate in, and remain in, Orange County.

“Orange County is losing 7 percent of its population between the ages of 25 and 34, while surrounding counties are showing an increase,” BIA/OC CEO Mike Balsamo said. “Cities can help reverse this trend by examining existing zoning codes and revising land-use recommendations to create incentives for housing that is accessible and affordable to a broader range of people.”

Mission Viejo, one of the largest cities in Orange County, is currently studying underutilized spaces for revitalization. “By considering the recommendations listed in the Housing Futures Initiative—many of which are specifically called out in the Housing Element of Mission Viejo’s General Plan—the Mission Viejo City Council has demonstrated its willingness to help address the region’s housing shortage,” declared Balsamo.

“Taking a look at initiatives like this one is extremely important,” said Mission Viejo Mayor Frank Ury. “The current cost to put a shovel in the ground to start building a house is $130,000. Mission Viejo is either part of the solution or we’re a bystander.”

“Making local policy makers more aware of the ways in which a housing shortage affects major employers, economic growth, and the health of local neighborhoods is an important part of the BIA/OC’s mission,” said Balsamo. “We plan to work with other cities and coalition partners to bring more attention to this issue in the future.”

The BIA is a nonprofit trade association of more than 1,100 companies employing over 100,000 people affiliated with the home building industry here in Orange County. Its mission is to champion housing as the foundation of vibrant and sustainable communities.

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The National Association of REALTORS® has won the rights to the new .realestate top-level domain. NAR intends to use the .realestate domain along with the recently acquired .REALTOR domain to create order for real estate information on the Internet and to provide NAR members with tools that help brand themselves as the most trusted, valued source of real estate information. More…

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We care about your safety while you are out showing properties.  Here are 10 ways to stay safe: 

1.  Always carry your cell phone where it is readily accessible. Do not leave it in the purse you locked in the trunk of your car or stowed out of sight in a kitchen cabinet.

2.  Be aware of your surroundings. Preview property before you show it. Familiarize yourself with the layout of the property, including all entrances and exits, and with the neighborhood.

3.  Be careful how you dress. Flashy or expensive jewelry may attract the wrong kind of attention.

4.  Implement a buddy system. Enlist at least five close friends or colleagues on whom you can rely in case of an emergency. Tell them in advance what property you will be showing and trust that they will have your back.

5.  Ask prospective clients to meet you at your office. Before you take clients to see a property, get a license plate number and leave it at the front desk. Explain to your clients that doing so is office policy; a client who means no harm won’t mind.

6.  Always take your own car for showings. When you leave your car, lock it.

7.  When showing a property, let potential buyers take the lead while you follow. If there are features you want to call to their attention, do so from the rear, not the front. 

8.  Avoid going into the basement, walk-in closets, or other closed or confined areas with a prospect. Be familiar with all entrances and exits.  

9. Never advertise a property as vacant or show one alone at night. To do so is to invite trouble.

10. Don't host an open house alone; take along a colleague. And suggest to home owners that they take breakables off tabletops and stow valuables in safe places, well out of sight. 


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Half of all millennials viewed real estate websites last month, but fewer homes on the market, increasing prices, and tight lending standards have made it difficult for them to become homeowners. The Top 10 Fall Markets for Millennial Home Buyers list shows that despite trends shown in the August National Housing Trend Report of strong prices and limited inventory, some markets are primed and ready for millennial home buyers this fall. More…

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This is a friendly reminder to make sure you're aware of a city's sign rules before you place your open house signs.  Cities across Orange County have increased enforcement of their existing sign regulations.  Did you know that in some areas of Orange County you cannot attach flags or other wind-driven items, like balloons, to your signs?  

Aliso Viejo: open house signs cannot be placed on sidewalks or any public property. The public right-of-way extends from the street to the sidewalk and 3' beyond the edge of the sidewalk. Signs cannot be placed within 3' of the public sidewalk. City regulations also state that signs cannot be put up before 8 a.m. and can only be posted during the open house times. They must be removed by dusk. In an effort to prevent confiscation or citations, warning notices are affixed to the noncompliant signs so that the REALTOR® or person retrieving them is provided with notice of the violation. For more information about Aliso Viejo's sign regulations, contact (949) 425-2539 or  

Laguna Beach: many of the offending signs are from outside area agents. If a sign is found to be in violation, a letter will be sent to the agent with a compliance date. If the agent fails to contact the city and correct the violation, the city may issue an Administrative Citation which carries a daily fine amount of $100 per day, per violation until compliance is met.  

OCAR has taken great effort to research the signs rules for Orange County's cities and select cities in Los Angeles county. Take advantage of this member benefit today. Sign Ordinances is available in ePub format or PDF.

In all cities, signs posted in the public right-of-way (such as blocking a sidewalk) pose a danger to pedestrian safety and handicap accessibility—please be considerate of where you place your signs.

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