How to Protect Your Personal Data When Applying for a Mortgage Online
10 min read
The internet has forever changed the way we shop, communicate, and even the way we work.
But while most of us are eternally grateful for the conveniences we never knew we needed—like takeout from an app—the Internet also puts many financial services at our fingertips.
You borrow $20 for lunch. No problem! Use an app to send money to a friend. Can’t remember your credit card due date? Just sign into your app and avoid a late fee.
You can even apply for a mortgage from the comfort of your home—something practically unheard of 25 years ago.
But with any convenience comes a few headaches. So as more people become comfortable with online mortgage applications and share their sensitive information electronically, there are more concerns about protecting one’s identity from hackers.
The good news is that you can protect your personal and financial data. Identity thieves think they’re smart—but you’re smarter.
1. Find a reputable lender
One of the best weapons for protecting your personal and financial data is working with a trusted mortgage lender.
Does this mean you should “only” use lenders you’ve heard? Of course not. But it does mean keeping your eyes and ears open for any red flags before handing over personal details.
Never, never, never underestimate an online thief. Their entire life’s purpose is to make life harder for others, and they’re constantly thinking and crafting different ways to dupe unsuspecting applicants. Some even go as far as setting up fake mortgage websites (yeah, it’s that serious).
So before you enter any information on an online mortgage application, hop on the Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System and Registry and confirm a lender or broker’s license.
2. What’s the lender’s security policy?
The job or responsibility of keeping your personal information safe doesn’t only fall on your shoulders. Lenders have a responsibility to clients too. And truthfully speaking, there’s really only so much you can do.
But never assume that a lender will take the necessary steps to keep your personal data safe.
It’s perfectly okay to ask questions about their privacy and security policies. You have every right to know if they’ll share your information with others, and whether you’re uploading documents to a secure portal.
If you’re coming to a website for the first time, one red flag of an unsecured site is a missing padlock in the search bar.
3. Apply over a secured network
While you might research and check social media over an unsecured network, don’t sign into online accounts over these networks (also known as public networks).
And you definitely don’t want to apply for a mortgage. It’s a hack waiting to happen! The best place is at home on your password-protected network.
4. Don’t immediate respond to every email
Throughout the mortgage process it’s not uncommon to become email buddies with your loan officer. There’s a lot of back-and-forth communication, and it probably comes as no surprise that email is the fastest and most convenient way to speak.
Your loan officer knows this. You know this. And guess who else?
That’s right—the identity thieves pushing out hundreds of phishing emails redirecting recipients to a fake website.
Thieves know that out of 100 randomly fake emails they’ll trick a percentage of recipients. And the scary part is that these fake emails and websites look like a lender’s real site.
It doesn’t matter how legit an email looks or sounds, always double check the email address and compare it with the address you have on file.
When in doubt, give you a loan officer a call (with a number you’ve used before).
Don’t let identity thieves ruin the mortgage experience for you. Along with these precautions, Real Genius is committed to going the extra mile to keep your information safe. To learn more about our security measures—and our loan programs—reach out today.