Identity Protection Part 1: Cybercrime

The effects of identity theft and fraud can be a cause for a mortgage application to be declined. This is why we have developed this three part blog series to help you understand how to protect yourself, recognize scams, and how to recover if you ever fall victim.

Safeguarding your personal information should always be one of your top priorities, especially online. Below are some tips for ways you can protect yourself from cybercrime and avoid going through the tedious and lengthy process that is restoring identity and damaged credit scores.

Passwords & Protecting Your Accounts

• Best practice dictates you should change your password every 90 days. A strong password should be 10-15 characters long and use a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols.1
• Keep your passwords in a safe place and use different passwords for each of your online accounts.1
• Enable two-step verification whenever possible to protect online accounts, including your email, e-commerce, social media and financial/banking accounts. This is an easy way to implement an extra layer of protection.1

Software Security & Protecting Your Devices

• Ensure you have the proper security software in place. This includes having a secure firewall and installing antivirus programs with automatic updates to eliminate malware, adware, viruses and other malicious programs. 1
• Ignore pop-ups as they can contain malicious software.2
• It’s always a good idea to use a browser with click-to-play plugin settings as cyber attackers can use these plugins to gain access to your machine.3
• Do not open emails, click on links or download files from unknown senders.1

Protecting Your Personal Information

• Use caution when sharing personal information such as your name, address, phone number and email address. When you do divulge this sensitive information, use secure sites. You should look for sites with “https” rather than “http”. The “s” stands for secure. Another way to identify if you have a secure connection is by the small lock icon in the bottom right corner of your browser window.1
• Be cognizant when using public Wi-Fi as most Wi-Fi hotspots do not encrypt data. Once the information leaves your device, any unencrypted data could potentially be intercepted by an intruder.2

Monitoring Your Financial Accounts

• You should check your accounts on a regular basis for any fraudulent transactions. It’s also a good idea to add alerts to your online accounts to help stay on top of any irregular activity.1
• Be cautious of emails containing wire payment instructions. Before making any payments, verify the credibility of the request by phone. Use a phone number known to you or from a trusted source – don’t call the number listed in the email. You should also be extra vigilant regarding requests for payments to overseas bank accounts or last minute wire instruction changes.1

1 Prevention Tips-us.norton.com, http://us.norton.com/cybercrime-prevention
2 12 Ways To Protect Yourself From Cybercrime – idiva.com, by TNN, 05/13/13, http://www.idiva.com/news-work-life/12-ways-to-protect-yourself-from-cyber-crime/21449
3 How To Protect Yourself From Cyber Criminals- educause.edu, by Martin Holste, http://www.educause.edu/blogs/vvogel/how-protect-yourself-cybercriminals

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Homeward Residential Inc. is not currently licensed to originate mortgage loans in Massachusetts, New York, Utah, and Virginia.