According to the National Association of Realtors, parents gifting money to their children to help purchase a first home is a common experience. Gifting money is a type of down payment assistance that can help them realize their dreams of homeownership.
Keep yourself and your information safe: Protect yourself from online scams
With more and more banking and home buying happening online, you must know how to protect yourself and your personal information. Online scams and fraud take advantage of someone to steal their money or identity through the use of bogus websites, links, and emails, among other methods. Millions of dollars are lost each year to these crimes and can affect any one of any age.
To keep yourself and your information safe online, follow these four tips:
Never answer unsolicited emails or open unknown attachments
Phishing is a common email scam where entities will try to impersonate your bank, lender, or another reputable business to get your personal information. Phishing emails can also contain viruses. Often, the email will look like it is from your lender and have wording and links to try to trick you into opening them. Watch out for emails that:
- Say they’ve noticed suspicious activity or login attempts
- Attach a fake invoice
- Tell you to confirm some personal information
- Ask you to click on a link to make a payment
Never give out the following personal information to unknown emails or entities:
- Account numbers
- Wiring instructions
At Smart Mortgage we will never ask you for your password. If in doubt, call your agent.
If you must email personal information, send it via a secure file-sharing portal that can be password protected. Rest assured our online application portal meets these security standards.
Use strong passwords
Did you know that even in 2020, the most common passwords were:
These passwords are very insecure and put your data at risk. When signing up for any online account, always choose a strong password with at least eight characters and a combination of symbols, letters, and numbers. For example, “L&hxURf3” is a secure password.
If you have trouble remembering passwords, use a secure password manager. These programs are opened with a master password that securely stores your login information. Keep your master password in a safe place. If you lose it, you will not be able to recover it.
Verbally confirm any wire transactions
Real estate closings often rely on wiring to safely get money where it needs to go. Your lender will usually handle wiring for you. If you must send a wire yourself, verbally confirm it with the receiver. This will ensure that the wire is sent to the right person.
Never wire money to strangers! Wire fraud is a scheme devised to defraud others out of money, the most common being the Nigerian Prince scam. Once the money is wired, it is impossible to reverse the transaction or trace the money.
Report scams and fraud
Reporting scams and fraud is critical in helping keep law enforcement current on fraud and scheme techniques used by criminals. This will also allow them to keep the public educated and safe.
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)
The above information is for educational purposes only. All information, loan programs and interest rates are subject to change without notice. All loans subject to underwriter approval. Terms and conditions apply. Always consult an accountant or tax advisor for full eligibility requirements on tax deduction.