In 2022, more than 3 million North Carolina residents were victims of a data breach — and there were thousands of data breaches in the state. When your data is compromised, it puts you at risk for identity theft, and that could have disastrous effects on your credit report. It makes sense that you would want to protect your sensitive personal information when mortgage shopping.
The mortgage application process, by nature, involves a lot of your personal information and financial data. Learn how to keep this information safe as you shop for a mortgage broker, apply for a mortgage, and close on your new home loan.
What information mortgage companies collect (and why)
Before they can arrange a mortgage for you, mortgage companies need to know a few key pieces of information: who you are, how much you earn, and how much debt you have. This helps the mortgage underwriting team decide how much you can afford to borrow.
To get this information, mortgage companies collect a good deal of personal information, such as:
- Phone number
- Social security number
- Pay stubs
- Bank statements
- Credit report
As you might expect, this is very personal, sensitive information, and you definitely don’t want it falling into the wrong hands! But without it, the mortgage companies have no idea if you’re trustworthy, if you can afford the loan amount you’re asking for, or even if you are who you say you are.
Your mortgage broker needs this information to prevent other people from borrowing money in your name, and to protect you from taking out a mortgage you can’t afford. Mortgage companies may also share your personal information with select third parties, such as loan servicers and government agencies. This can help you if you’re interested in qualifying for loan programs (such as an FHA loan or VA loan).
Since the mortgage process requires you to share your personal data, it’s very important that you do so carefully. Using the steps below will help you keep your information secure.
6 steps to protect your personal info during the mortgage process
To keep your personal information safe, it’s vital that you only share your details with trusted people. Ask your mortgage lender about their privacy policies and make sure you feel comfortable with their level of commitment to keeping your data private.
Only deal with reputable companies
Before you start handing out your Social Security number, make sure you trust the mortgage company you’re dealing with. Ask for referrals from friends and family. Get to know your mortgage officer. Chat with a representative on the phone. Look up testimonials and reviews. Make sure they’re licensed in North Carolina (and South Carolina if that’s where you’re looking). Look up their NMLS number. Above all, trust your gut.
Use secure internet
Don’t conduct your mortgage business in coffee shops or similar places. Public Wi-Fi isn’t secure. “Threat actors” (or hackers) could intercept your information as you’re sending it.
Instead, make sure you’re using secure internet, either at home with a protected internet connection or by using a VPN (virtual private network).
Be cautious with unsolicited messages
When you’re shopping for a mortgage, it can feel like you’re constantly getting phone calls and emails. But it’s very, very important that you double-check who is contacting you and asking for your data. Scammers can pose as legitimate loan officers. Instead, be the one to contact the company with your details. Make sure you’re calling a verified phone number or messaging a verified email address.
Many mortgage companies will provide secure document portals where you can safely upload your documents directly to the company. This protects your info from being intercepted, forwarded, or hacked. Another option is to meet in person with your mortgage broker.
Try a password manager
Choosing strong passwords is an important step in protecting your personal information. But they can be difficult to remember. A password manager is an app that will securely store your passwords for you and even help you generate strong passwords for your mortgage-related accounts. Two-factor authentication will add another layer of security to your accounts.
Monitor your credit
Keep an eye on your credit report for mistakes and errors. It’s good practice all year round, but especially when you’re applying for credit. Checking your credit will also alert you to any fraudulent credit applications or attempted identity theft. If you notice mistakes or errors, notify the credit bureau right away. You should let the mortgage company know, too.
A mortgage company you can trust
At Fairway Mortgage of the Carolinas, we know how important it is to keep your personal information safe. We believe in complete transparency about how your data will be used, so there are never any surprises. Our information technology systems use data encryption and the latest physical and virtual controls, and our associates receive ongoing training on Information Security Awareness to keep your data safe.
When you’re ready to work with a mortgage lender you can trust, contact Fairway Mortgage of the Carolinas. One of our Loan Officers will be happy to help you get started.