The process of applying for a home loan has never been easier or more convenient. Getting a mortgage once involved meeting with a lender face-to-face to discuss your options and fill out a loan application. Today, the lending world is at your fingertips, allowing you to submit an online mortgage application from the comfort of your home.
Yet, as more people apply for mortgages online, there’s increased concerns about protecting one’s identity from hackers.
Because mortgage lenders receive sensitive information electronically, some identity thieves attempt to intercept emails and online applications to use an applicant’s Social Security number for fraudulent purposes.
The good news is that there are plenty of ways to protect your personal data and keep your identity safe. Here’s a look at four strategies to protect your personal and financial data when applying for a mortgage online.
1. Get a Loan from a Reputable Lender.
To ensure the safety of your personal and financial data, only use mortgage lenders that are well-known and trusted. Not to say you “shouldn’t” use a bank that you’ve never heard of, just make sure you do your due diligence before divulging personal information.
Some fraudulent people will set up fake mortgage websites with the intent of getting your information. So before applying for a home loan, confirm that your loan officer or broker is licensed through the Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System and Registry.
Additionally, use referrals from family and friends. If they had an excellent experience with a particular lender or loan officer, you’ll likely have a similar experience.
2. Ask About the Bank’s Security Policy.
The truth is, you can only do so much with regard to keeping your personal and financial data safe when applying for a mortgage online. Your mortgage lender has to do its part, too.
Therefore, ask your lender what steps they will take to keep your information safe. Ask to review their privacy and security policy, and don’t be afraid to ask important questions.
For example, who will they share your information with? Does the mortgage lender have a secure portal for uploading documents? Do they use encrypted software when sending emails?
3. Submit Your Application Over a Secured Network.
It’s also important to only submit an online mortgage application over a secured network. Make sure your home’s network is password-protected so that thieves won’t hack into your system.
Never apply for a mortgage (or any loan) over a public network. Since many of these networks aren’t secure, it’s easier for someone to intercept your mortgage application and steal your sensitive information.
4. Be Cautious When Responding to Emails.
Although email is fast and convenient for corresponding with your loan officer, it’s not always the safest, so proceed with caution.
Many thieves will send out hundreds of phishing emails with the intent of tricking recipients. These fake emails pose as legitimate people, with normal requests, often asking customers to update their personal information and then redirecting them to a fake website.
These fake websites are designed to closely resemble legitimate banking sites, so what you believe to be a legitimate email request from your loan officer could be a scam.
To protect yourself, always double-check the sender’s email address before responding to email requests. If you don’t recognize the email address, or if the email appears suspicious, contact your loan officer via phone. When in doubt, deliver requested documents in person.
Identity thieves are clever and they know how to trick their victims. FirstBank Mortgage goes the extra mile to protect your personal data. To learn more about our security policies, reach out to a local loan expert.