Most of us have become comfortable with online shopping and banking. Online home hunting is not much different. However, while searching online for a home, you need to be more vigilant.
Over 90% people who bought homes last year had used property listing websites to find their dream home. That is not a bad thing. There is one problem though. Online homebuyers have been on the radar of cybercriminals for a while and they are waiting for an opportunity to take advantage.
Very often, criminals launch fake websites to collect personal information. Since most of these sites look like legitimate sites, they easily fool the buyers.
While searching online for a home, make sure that you only visit well-known property websites. Don’t trust every website out there. Of course you can find several reliable sources of information online, but the truth is that there is a bad guy lurking around every corner.
Here are a few things you need to do to stay safe while buying a home online:
1. Get the latest anti-virus software
Users who don’t update their security software make themselves vulnerable to cyber-attacks. If you get online with an unprotected brand new computer, it takes only a few minutes for it to get infested with malware. All personal information stored on that device is immediately compromised.
According to online security experts, online homebuyers need the latest suite of antivirus, anti-spyware, and anti-phishing software. Every device connected to the internet must be protected by a firewall. This is particularly important if you send or receive any financial information online.
2. Make sure that your connection is secure
Never use a public Wi-Fi connection to access financially sensitive information and never enter sensitive personal or financial information on a website unless its URL starts with an https. The acronym https indicates that it is a secure connection.
3. Use your mobile
The internet connection on your mobile phone is safe. However, many people access public Wi-Fi networks to avoid exceeding the limits of their data plan. It is fine for casual surfing. However, sending financial and personal information over a Wi-Fi connection is never recommended. Paying data fee is better than getting your personal information stolen. Using your smartphone for online shopping is better than using a tablet or laptop.
4. Check for legitimacy
Good security software flags malicious links. Installing the McAfee ‘SiteAdvisor’ is a good idea because it warns users when they are about to enter malicious site.
5. Call the lender
Legitimate institutions like banks do not normally ask their customers to send financial information by email. If you receive emails asking you to submit your financial data, do not oblige. Pick up the phone and call the lender.
6. Verify that the website is legitimate
If you don’t see any security warning, the website you have visited may be legitimate. In that case, make sure that it is reputable. Search online for reviews on this site. If most of the reviews are positive, you can rest assured that you are dealing with a legitimate website.
7. Get a credit freeze
The credit freeze is an effective tool against identify theft. By freezing your credit, you can prevent anyone from opening new credit with it even if they know your bank account or social security number. You will need to unfreeze it before you apply for a mortgage.
That’s it. Seven simple steps will make sure that you stay safe from online fraud entities.
Remember, you can get a free home valuation report from Neighborhood IQ is exceptionally valuable. It’s free, and you will be able to find out the true value of your property so that you can price it accordingly—and price it to sell.
Also keep in mind that Home Loan Advisor can analyze your property, current market conditions, local market comps, and other variables in our proprietary algorithm as well as match you with potential lenders who have products that may help you and provide you with a sense of stability.