How to Protect Your Identity While Buying a House
We live in an age when major companies are being routinely hacked and the personal data associated with countless Americans is being seized by cyber criminals. Protecting your identity is incredibly important, both on the Internet and in person. This is especially true when you are dealing with a purchase as significant as a home. It is important that you know how to protect your identity while buying a house so you can keep your financial and personal data out of the wrong hands.
How to Protect Yourself Before You Start Dealing with a Lender
Step 1: Ask for references. If you have family or friends who have recently bought a new home or moved, then ask them what lenders they recommend.
Be sure to mention your concerns about protecting your identity, and ask your friends how they felt about the security offered by the company they dealt with. While you can’t predict every possible future outcome, compiling a list of trustworthy lenders can go a long way.
Step 2: Check on licenses of potential lenders. You can use official channels in your state and locality to determine if the lender has all the proper certificates and licenses.
If one of the lenders lacks the proper certification, then do not deal with them. This is a sign that they are careless at best and malicious at worse. Look for other lenders.
Step 3: Use your gut. If you have called around or visited local lenders and they give you a bad vibe, don’t be afraid to decline their services.
In reality, that intuitive reaction is a good sign that you are perceiving something wrong, even if you don’t know exactly what it is. Maybe the office seemed overly untidy. Maybe some of the employees dismissed your concerns about security or did not answer questions directly. While these might not totally disqualify them as a potential lender, don’t be afraid to trust your gut.
How to Protect Your Identity When Dealing with a Lender
If you have decided on a lender, the next step is to protect yourself during the buying process.
Step 1: Get assurances that all communications are secure. You’ll be forwarding all kinds of documents to the lender, so you need to know that this information is secure.
The most common way you might send information is via email. The news is littered with stories of companies whose emails are stolen and vital customer information is compromised. Ask the lender what sort of encryption they use on emails and if the emails are truly secure. You should also ask what, if any, steps are taken to rectify a situation in which valuable information may be stolen.
Step 2: Ask about general security relating to your information. Inquire about what happens to your personal information once the process is complete.
Is the information kept in a secure file? Is it properly disposed of? Furthermore, ask about those who get to view your information. Do these people have the proper clearance level? Can the lender guarantee that your information is only given to those who absolutely need to see it?
Step 3: Stay vigilant. You can’t protect yourself from every possible threat, but you can keep an eye out for your own identity when possible.
If the lender engages in a potentially dangerous practice, make your concerns known. Be on the lookout for anything that might compromise your data.
If you know how to protect your identity while buying a house, then you could be safeguarding yourself against a world of hurt down the road. By taking special care to look after yourself and your interests, you can hopefully prevent the worst from happening and have some peace of mind that your information is safe.