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How to avoid phishing scams and other attempts at fraud

When buying a home, it’s important to protect your identity and maintain financial security.

For many people, buying a home is the most significant financial decision they’ll ever make. Part of that process typically involves securing a mortgage. As you navigate the mortgage process, private, sensitive information is shared with the lender and such details must be protected.

Unfortunately, we’re all at risk when it comes to cybersecurity. Savvy predators are constantly finding ways to creatively attack unsuspecting individuals and organizations. However, there are precautions you can take to make your home-buying or refinancing experience as secure as possible.

A few things to keep in mind as you purchase a home include:

  • All correspondence with your loan officer should come from and go to their work email address, not a personal account.
  • Your loan officer should give you a heads up on who from their team will be in touch throughout the process—if you receive a request for confidential information from an unfamiliar person, call your loan officer to confirm their identity.
  • Use a secure method to transmit your financial information to your loan officer. Emailing sensitive documents from your personal account is not secure.
  • Before wiring any funds, call the intended recipient at a number you know is valid to confirm the instructions—and be very wary of any request to change wire instructions you already received.
  • Call your loan officer directly if you receive any questionable requests or emails related to your mortgage.

In addition, always follow these basic rules to keep your identity safe and sound:

  • Be careful when clicking links and opening attachments. If possible, hover your mouse over linkable text or a graphic to see the destination URL. Proceed with caution (or not at all) to avoid landing on a dangerous site or inadvertently downloading a virus.
  • Most of the correspondence you receive should be addressed to you specifically. If you receive an email with a generic greeting, that’s a red flag.
  • Be on the lookout for misspellings and bad grammar. These can be an indicator of a fake email and at times it may even be intentional—mistakes like this can help fraudsters avoid spam filters.
  • If you feel you’ve been a victim of a phishing scam or fraud as it pertains to getting a mortgage, give your loan officer a call right away to let them know. You should also report any such instance to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC.gov), which aims to protect America’s consumers.

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