San Diego Home Mortgage-Identity Theft: Protect Your Financial FutureBy
It is estimated by the Federal Trade Commission that as many as 9 million people in America fall victim to identity theft every year. Unfortunately too many people have no idea that they have been victimized until they are applying for their San Diego home mortgage.
Identity theft happens when information such as credit card numbers or social security numbers are used to make purchases, open credit cards or other accounts in your name.
Do Annual Credit Check-Ups!
Visit www.annualcreditreport.com to get a free credit report once a year. Closely review all 3 credit reports and look for anything suspicious or unusual. Look for unusual addresses or inquiries that were done without your knowledge. You should do this once a year so there are no credit surprises when you try to qualify for a San Diego home mortgage.
Opt Out of Special Offers!
Go to www.optoutprescreen.com to cut down on all of the pre-approved credit card offers that come in the mail. Many identity thieves do things the low tech way, by stealing mail. They do this by getting it from a mail box or going through your trash. Make sure to shred all documents that contain ANY personal information before you throw it away or recycle it.
Do Not Give People You Don’t Know Your Information!
Avoid falling prey to phishing scams either over the phone or by e-mail. Phishing scams done by identity thieves that pretend to be someone from your bank or another credit institution and ask you for your personal information. If someone contacts you requesting your personal information, do not give it to them. Any company that you have a bank account or other credit account with already has your information! Find out the name, phone number and employee number of anyone asking for your information and tell them that you will call back. After hanging up the phone, call the number on your account statement. NOT the one that the person gave you to see what the issue with the creditor is, if anything. This is all basic common sense; if you don’t shred your personal information before discarding it, anyone can go through your mail or trash to find out where you bank and your phone number. They can then call you and say that they work for your bank and they had a few “quick questions” after you verify your identity. If they are a smart trash digging identity thief, they can go into your bank and look at a few name tags and say, “I work at the branch up the street with Tim and Suzy” to make them sound more credible and make you feel comfortable about giving up the information. Take the extra time to call the bank back or even better go down in person.
Do Not Click On Links in E-mail Messages from Financial Institutions!
This is the high tech way to get you to give your information. It is very easy to recreate the look of a company’s email or web page. If you click on one of these links it can take you to a web page that looks like the sign in page of your financial institution. After trying to sign in, the identity thieves will have both your login and password. It is much safer to go directly to the website of your bank or credit card company to access the information that you want. Often fake sites will have unusual graphics, color schemes, or misspelled words. These are signs that someone is trying to “Pharm” your information.
Identity theft costs the average victim around $5,000 and hundreds of hours of time trying to fix the damage done to their credit. Legitimate credit cards may raise your rates and even worse, you might not be able to buy that new car or qualify for a mortgage for your new home.
If you would like a copy of our credit scoring booklet or would like more tips on how to avoid credit theft, call me at (619)285-2921.