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 to take to make your experience when buying a home or refinancing as secure as possible.
- All correspondence with your loan officer should come from and go to his/her work email address, not a personal account.
- Verify that email addresses are exactly the same as what is in your records. Spoofing is an attempt to gain unauthorized access to your information by pretending to be someone else. You may receive an email from someone who appears to be your agent or a member of your loan officer’s team, but in fact are not. Before responding, check that the email address appears as it should—for example, all emails from a Guaranteed Rate employee end in @rate.com (firstname.lastname@example.org).
- Loan officers should give you a heads up on who from his/her 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.
- Call your loan officer directly if you receive any questionable requests or emails related to your mortgage.
- Use a secure method to transmit your financial information to your loan officer. Emailing sensitive documents from your personal account is not secure.
- Understand who will supply you with your wire instructions. When working with Guaranteed Rate, they will always come from the title company or the closing attorney, never from an employee of Guaranteed Rate.
- Only accept wire instructions that have been provided to you securely, either through a secure email system or a secure document sharing portal.
- Before wiring any funds, call the intended recipient at a number you know is valid to confirm the instructions. Be very wary of any request to change wire instructions you already received—wire instructions do not change.
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.