Deb Tebbs Group

Cascade Sotheby's International Realty

How to Protect Your Identity While Shopping for a Home

The rush of the hunt, the interest of the tour, and the excitement of finding your perfect home are all part of the house buying process, but during that process you hand out a measurable amount of personal information. Protect vital information like social insurance numbers, current addresses and bank account numbers by staying alert and informed. Here are a few tips to help prevent identity theft and ensure your personal information is safe and secure.

   Handing Out Information

When securing a loan or a pre-approval letter, it is important that home buyers only hand out information to trusted banks, financial advisors and real estate agents. In order to stop identity theft, companies like Lifelock are a great place to start. Discuss the process with your Realtor and stress that you want to work with the most trusted institutions. A good Realtor will be aware of the institutions with the best reputations for protecting your information.

   Trusting Your Agent

Another place where information can be lost is through the agent or agency that is being used for your home search. An agent may seem like your best friend but there is a chance that information can be easily lost in the shuffle of paperwork shuffling and listing searches. Most agents do not ask for personal information right away, so be cautious if it’s the first thing they request. During the later stages of buying a home, they’ll need all of this but it’s not necessary while your just browsing and starting the process. Bank account numbers are generally not required until good faith deposits are needed to make an offer.

If you feel uneasy about any of the institutions, go with your gut. There are multiple reputable agencies, brokers, and lenders on the market, so avoid settling for one that you don’t trust.

   Filing Paperwork

One other time where your personal information will be vulnerable is when filing with your financial lender. Paperwork upon paperwork is often required, making it easy to lose notes, leave behind paperwork and have excess copies on-hand. Stay extra organized by investing in a folder or notebook dedicated to your real estate endeavor. Keep all of your personal information confined to one place so that it doesn’t get lost in the shuffle. If you’re making multiple copies, keep the copies well labeled and make sure you know who will be handling those copies once they leave your sight. Both your agent and your lender will likely be juggling multiple clients at once, so stay organized, confirm receipt of documents, and don’t be afraid to ask questions and follow-up. The more involved and organized you are through the process, the more organized those you work with will be.

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