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Mortgage shopping, deceptive ads & identity theft

Protect your identity by knowing mortgage shopping safety
Protect your identity by knowing mortgage shopping safety
Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

If you are looking to buy a home or refinance its best to start the process knowing ahead of time how to protect your identity. Unfortunately, the internet is full of mortgage scams that try to entice you with extremely low rates. The problem according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is that deceptive ads are meant to peak your interest, but in reality do not disclose the true nature of the terms.

If you see an ad offering very low rates or payments, be cautious to avoid identity theft. While good organizations like the Lending Tree will connect you with mortgage brokers and lenders, it is important to understand the difference between real and misleading rate quotes. Red flag slogans to avoid are:

  • Very Low payment amounts such as slogans like "pay only $900 per month on a $300,000 loan."
  • Teaser rates such as "Rates as low as 1%" are to entice you and are not actually curtailed to your situation.

The best thing you can do to protect yourself from identity theft is be sure who you are dealing with. According to the FTC, some identity theft scams come in the form of official looking letters that appear to be from your current lender. Unfortunately scammers get a hold of your personal information from public records, so to avoid identity theft, always double check who you are dealing with. If you receive a letter in the mail, never call the number provided, but instead look it up yourself. In addition, be sure to note any deviations in the name or website provided because scammers often spoof businesses.

Refinance safely

When you search the internet, keep in mind that using Google means that your search will be recorded, so the next time you log into your email, you will be shown ads related to your most recent search. Some advertisements will seem too good to be true, so to make your refinancing experience more confidential and less risky, use in-private browsing to get an idea of the type of lenders you want to consider.

Mortgage shopping

Refinancing is a time when you should be doing your due diligence, so don't be afraid to look around. The FTC advises consumers to know the difference between a broker and a lender so that you will know the fees you will have to pay ahead of time, as well as who will view your personal information. Keep in mind that as long as you look around during a one month period, your credit score will not be negatively impacted.

If you are a resident of Santa Ana or elsewhere and are a victim of identity theft or other mortgage scam, contact the FTC crime complaint center at https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0341-file-complaint-ftc You should also call the Santa Ana police or your local police department for help filing a complaint. Keep in mind that even though you file a complaint, identity theft is often the work of those outside U.S. jurisdiction, so to raise awareness be sure to report your complaint to scambook.com.

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