Buying a Home? 6 Ways to Protect Your Identity While You Close

Buying a home requires sharing lots of personally identifiable information. Make sure that while you’re working with realtors, home inspectors, and state agencies that you’re being proactive to keep your information secure.  

Here are our top tips to ensure that you find your dream home in a safe and secure way:

1. Work with a Trusted Real Estate Provider

Many people will have access to your personal information as part of the home buying process. This is why you should seek out professionals that have high recommendations from people you trust. Even after you find someone who is highly recommended, make sure to check his or her credentials. Your local Better Business Bureau will be able to tell you if any problems have been reported in the past.

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2.  Ask How They Store Your Information

Make sure you have a safe way to send sensitive documents and ask them where they store personal information. See if they have security in place in case of an online breach, or security where they store physical documents.

According to the Identity Theft Resource Center, more than 400 million people had their sensitive data exposed in 2018. That number was a 126 increase from the amount of personal data exposed in 2017.

3. Consider Freezing or Locking Your Credit Until You Make an Offer

One of the downfalls of a credit monitoring service is that it can only notify you of an issue after someone has stolen your data. This is where freezing or locking credit comes in. Both processes prevent creditors from accessing your credit report, which stops criminals from opening a new account in your name.

Credit locks are products offered by consumer credit bureaus, and you can unlock your credit whenever you wish. Credit freezes are free as mandated by law but unfreezing an account can take several days compared to locks.

4. Find a Service that Monitors Your Personal Identity

It’s hard to keep an eye on your credit when you’re trying to buy a home on top of everything else in life. That is where monitoring services come to the rescue. For a monthly or annual fee, these services will alert you if new accounts are opened in your name among other red flags. These services are especially helpful if you need to recover lost money and repair your credit.

You should consider paying for a service if you have previously been a victim of identity theft or if you lost your Social Security card.

6. Stay safe when you close

Keep yourself safe when buying a new home by using a secure computer with a password-protected network. Be wary of email phishing schemes and avoid promises that seem too good to be true. Shred any documents with sensitive information once they’re no longer needed. Also, make sure to use a variety of passwords for different logins.                       

Article Written by Haley Keiser

Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko