For many people, buying or selling a home can be a highlight experience. Supporting agents, brokers, loan officers, appraisers, and more all come together to help close the deal, marking a fresh start for both the buyer and seller. But sometimes, all doesn’t go according to plan. Take identity theft, for instance. It happens to buyers and sellers more often than the industry would care to admit. The experience can leave a person feeling victimized and mortified, with a lengthy (and sometimes costly) road to recover their good name.
Fortunately, there are things you can do to be proactive in preventing this from happening to you and protect your identity when buying. If you’re buying or selling a home, here are four things you can do to protect yourself from a case of stolen identity:
1. Pay for a Credit Monitoring Service
Most of us don’t spend waking moments scrutinizing or even thinking about our credit report. At least, not until we need that information. That’s where a monitoring service can help. In order to prevent fraud, credit theft, or identity compromise, it’s a good idea to pay for a service to monitor your credit for you and alert you of any anomalies that may pop up, before things run amok. Hire a service that monitors all three major credit bureaus.
2. Freeze or Lock Your Credit Until You Need It
Credit monitoring services, while helpful, can only alert you of damage after it has been done. You can be more proactive about protecting your credit by requesting it to be frozen or locked down. This will prevent others from accessing your credit report, including criminals looking for opportunity to steal your identity and borrowing power.
3. Work with Trustworthy Lenders and Agents
Recommendations from trusted sources can go a long way in finding reputable professionals in Atlanta to support you in your home buying or selling efforts. Even when they come highly recommended, make sure to review their credentials and experience.
Once you’re comfortable with their integrity, make sure to hold an express conversation about the security of your identity. Ask them what steps they will take to protect your sensitive information. Do they have a secure document storage system and method of transferring that information? Do they have systems to secure any physical hard copies of your info to protect your identity when buying?
4. Be on Alert When Closing the Sale or Purchase
Anytime there are large sums of money being transferred, you can bet thieves are looking for a way to get a piece of the action. Last year alone, almost $1.5 billion dollars was lost to fraud! Security is everything, including passwords, and web address integrity. Be cautious of phishing emails appearing to be from your agent or lender that provides closing instructions or other unusual requests that are not given to you in person in order to protect your identity when buying.
Staying safe is possible with the right real estate team. Let DUFFY Realty safely guide you through the process. Call us today: (678) 318-1700