Buying a new home can be a fun experience that is easily ruined by identity theft. While it seems like it may be simple to fix, it can lose you money and potentially your home if things don't go accordingly. The best way to ensure your identity stays safe is to stay proactive. Continue reading to find the best ways to protect your credit while buying a home.
1. Use a credit monitoring service
Keeping track of your credit is a small task when trying to close on a house. Instead, let a credit monitoring service do that for you. Not only are they able to to alert you if new accounts are opened in your name, they are able to provide additional services as well. One of the best reasons to use a credit monitoring service is to recover lost money and repair your credit.
If you have previously been a victim of identity theft or you have lost your Social Security Card, consider using a monitoring service. Be certain that your service monitors all three credit bureaus in order to get the best coverage for you dollar.
2. Lock or freeze your credit
While credit monitoring is great, it does have one downside — it cannot freeze your accounts for you. This is where being proactive comes in. Freeze or lock your credit to prevent creditors from accessing your report, which in turn prevents criminals from creating a new account with your name from this opened report.
You can lock your credit whenever you wish through the consumer credit bureaus. Per the law, credit freezes are free to ask for, but keep in mind that they may take several days to unfreeze.
3. Work with trustworthy lending or real estate agents
Your personal information may touch many hands throughout the home buying journey. To ensure your information remains safe, work with highly-coveted professionals who have many recommendations and are qualified with the correct certifications. Buying a home is a big decision that will be easier to make if you have the right people helping you along the way.
4. Secure connections at all times
Credit thieves are always looking for opportunities to strike and the more money involved, the more likely they will be too. The easiest way for fraudsters to get your info is through intercepting the emails you share with your real estate agent and lending agent. Protect yourself by using a secure connection, a secure computer, and secure folders or file storage locations. Properly destroy all documents with sensitive information after their use and avoid email phishing schemes. It's also a good idea to password protect your information as an added layer of security.
5. How do they store and use your information?
Since buying a home involves money and personal information, it's best to know exactly where everything is going to be stored and how it will be used. Directly ask the professionals you work with how they will use and store your information throughout the process as well as afterwards. If they experience a breach in security, you could be at risk, even if you bought the house 5 years ago.
6. Report credit theft immediately
Immediately report identity theft as soon as you find out you're a victim. The sooner you make it known, the more time you allow to get the case resolved and catch the culprit. Start out by canceling any fraudulent accounts, then alert your creditors. It is important to file a report with the Federal Trade Commission as well as your local police department. The sooner you do all of this, the more you will have to use as evidence to present as fraud to your lender.