The home buying experience can be an overwhelming experience that can be exhilarating, fun, stressful and exhausting. The process of securing a mortgage, successfully bidding on a home and completing the transaction can be lengthy, complex and involve seemingly endless professionals. Those professionals may include a buyer’s agent, a loan officer, a home inspector, title […]
3 tips for keeping yourself safe from scams
Every year, new scams pop up attempting to take advantage of homeowners, renters, and everyone in-between. Educating yourself about the different types of scams out there and recognizing the signs will help keep you, your information, and your finances safe.
Be aware of what you click on social media
Being savvy on social media doesn’t always boil down to likes and shares. Be careful with random quizzes and polls and the innocent information you provide. Social media is one of the top places to find personal information, so keep your accounts secure. COVID-19 brought a lot of mortgage and homeowner assistance programs—and associated scams. Be wary of ads on websites and social media that promise “stimulus” or “savings” in a dollar amount to homeowners who need mortgage assistance to avoid foreclosure.
Know who you’re emailing
Never email account information, passwords or other highly personal information to anyone. If a company is asking for it, call the company if needed and ask questions. Guild Mortgage or SmartMortgage will never ask you to provide this information via email, but there are scammers out there who will pose as your bank, insurance, title company or yes, mortgage lender, requesting it. Be very wary of who the email is from and call your trusted loan officer if you sense anything suspicious.
Likewise, if you get an email from the IRS claiming you can get a third Economic Impact Payment (EIP) if you give them your information, report it! The IRS will never call, text, email, or contact you on social media.
You can lower your credit card interest yourself
Are you being promised by a debt relief company that they can lower your credit card interest? Is the catch you need to pay them a fee first?
You can do it yourself, no fees required.
Lowering your credit card interest can be as simple as calling your card’s customer service and asking about lower rates. You can also transfer your credit card balance to a new card with lower interest. This scam can hurt the credit score that you have so carefully kept up.
Know what to do if you have been scammed
Remember, scammers will often demand payment in the form of gift cards, wire transfers, or cryptocurrency. If you have been scammed, there are ways to mitigate it and lock down your accounts.
If you have paid money to a scammer, you may be able to get your money back. The first step is to report it to your bank, credit card company, or wire transfer company and ask them to reverse the transaction. If you have given away personal information, report it to the police and the FTC for next steps.
For instances of mortgage fraud, contact:
- Your state Attorney General
- The Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
- The Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD)
- The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)
Life in this digital age doesn’t have to be spent in a constant state of fear, but awareness of the risks is important. When in doubt, stop and do a little research. Look at the details of the sites and mobile apps you use. Research if needed. Understanding is the key to good digital self-protection.