Buying a home can be a very exciting and happy time. From touring neighborhoods and going to open houses, to being handed the keys by your real estate agent and hearing those wonderful words: “Welcome home,” the entire process is one that you will remember for a lifetime.
Sadly, buying a home also tends to expose your personal information to every financial Tom, Dick and Harry around. For example, banks and financial institutions will be checking your credit score to determine your credit worthiness, and your name and private information will be all over the huge stack of documents required for buying a home. In order to make sure the home buying process is pleasant and positive instead of stressful due to identity theft, consider the following suggestions.
When you are in the process of buying a home, your credit score will be pulled and checked over and over again by various lenders and banks. Before you start to go home shopping, request and review your own credit report. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) notes that you are allowed to get a free copy of your credit report once a year. The FTC website also offers tips and phone numbers that will help you to obtain the report. Once you get it, review it thoroughly, looking for any errors or accounts that are not yours. Knowing your FICO score ahead of time as well as what is and is not on your credit report is a proactive way to take control of your financial information. It will increase the likelihood of spotting any issues during the home buying process.
Your personal information will change hands numerous times as you buy a home, and you won’t always know who has access to your social security numbers, bank statements, payment stubs, and other private data. The best way to keep your identity safe and secure when buying a home is to sign up for a credit monitoring service like LifeLock. Each and every time a company runs a credit check on you or gains access to your accounts in any way, LifeLock will alert you via email, text, and/or voicemail. In the event you don’t recognize who is checking up on your credit and identity, it’ll go to work to prevent possible fraud.
Whether you are moving in or out of the Cincinnati area, chances are good that you will be working with a moving company. As the AARP notes in addition to home buying, the actual act of moving is also a prime time for identity theft to take place. A variety of people will be going in and out of your home—everyone from inspectors and appraisers, to moving companies and cleaning crews. Keep that giant stack of closing papers with you at all times, and never leave it lying out. When you are packing up and moving, keep the paperwork in your purse or briefcase, as well as your personal ID and credit cards.