11 Ways Consumers Can Prevent Mortgage Fraud
While there are several methods available to industry participants to assist in preventing fraud, there are also several approaches available to consumers. The following advice should be given to a mortgage agent’s client.
Consumers should obtain title insurance on every property that they buy and get title insurance for any property that they currently own. This can protect against future acts of title or mortgage fraud.
Consumers should destroy all bills and other personally identifiable documents by using a paper shredder instead of simply throwing them in the garbage. This can prevent criminals from obtaining this information by going through a consumer’s garbage. It is now common for criminals to take several containers of garbage from consumers’ homes to a different location to search for documents containing personal identity information which can then be used to impersonate the consumer.
A homebuyer purchasing a resale home should have it inspected. This can prevent the buyer from purchasing a house that was used as a grow op or a drug lab.
Consumers should strive to withdraw cash only from their bank’s ATMs. There have been several circumstances where ATMs in small gas stations or other stores have been compromised, allowing the criminal to record debit card and PIN information.
Consumers should always protect their PIN numbers, including debit card and credit card numbers to prevent unauthorized use of these cards.
Consumers should pull their own credit report every three to six months to ensure that there are no inquiries or debts that the consumer has not authorized. This can be done online through Equifax and Transunion.
Consumers should only use online retailers that they have knowledge of and/or use secure, encrypted processing of payment information. This can be confirmed in many instances through the web browser by way of a lock icon.
Consumers should never give their credit card information to unsolicited callers. If it is for a charity the consumer should obtain a number that he or she can verify and call the charity back, or have the charity send a payment request by mail. Many criminals will impersonate charities or other groups to obtain personal information by phone.
Phishing is an Internet scam whereby the criminal sends an email to the consumer requesting personal information. The email may appear to be from the consumer’s bank or other company such as Amazon or eBay. The technology can produce emails and websites that look identical to the actual company’s. However, respectable companies will not request this information by email.
Consumers should not carry their social insurance number card with them as this can be stolen and used for identity theft. There are only limited situations where a SIN card is required, and it is typically not required on a daily basis.
Consumers should use passwords that are unique, excluding birth dates and other common forms of passwords. Consumers should keep this information, if written, locked in a secure place.
Mortgage brokering in Ontario is regulated by the Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO) and requires a license. To obtain a license you must first pass an accredited course. The Real Estate and Mortgage Institute of Canada Inc. (REMIC) is accredited by FSCO to provide the course. For more information please visit us at www.remic.ca/getlicensed or call us at 877-447-3642
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