Tips to Avoid Identity Theft

Stealing a credit card through a laptop concept for computer hacker, network security and electronic banking security

Your credit score is an important part of getting a mortgage, as your mortgage lender wants to see your history of using and repaying credit to assess your viability as a borrower beforehand. Some extremely unfortunate souls in the mortgage world have run into a worrisome issue in recent years, however: They’ve gone to complete a mortgage deal, only to find that their credit score was torpedoed by identity theft.

Identity theft is on the rise, with hackers looking for your personal information and using it to empty your accounts and impact your credit information severely. At Altius Mortgage and our partners at Mortgage Ogden, we’re here to help – here are several tips to avoid identity theft so you don’t run into this kind of an unpleasant surprise when looking to finalize your mortgage.

Public WiFi and Sensitive Information

Mobile and online banking is a necessity in today’s day and age, but you should avoid making secure transactions of any kind while on public WiFi networks. These can easily be hacked, allowing perpetrators to see your personal information and also steal your passwords.

In addition, be careful about the sort of sensitive information you send via email – by any WiFi network. Try to avoid sending things like Social Security numbers, credit cards or account numbers.

Account Statements and Credit Report

Regularly check your account statements and your credit score. You’re looking for any suspicious activity that might signal your accounts have been compromised.

Phishing and Scams

No legitimate financial organization will ask for personal information via email – never provide this, and never click random links that you aren’t 100 percent sure of. If you ever see these kinds of requests from what appears to be your financial institution, contact them separately to confirm it was them.

Strong Passwords

Make sure you use complex passwords that contain uppercase and lowercase letters, plus at least one number or symbol. Passwords should be at least eight characters long, and you should not use the same passwords for everything.

Fraud Alerts and Freezes

If you’ve had any breaches in the past, or if you just want to take extra care, you can add a fraud alert or a freeze to your credit account. Fraud alerts are generally free, while a freeze will come with a fee.

For more on avoiding identity theft, or to learn about how to get the best mortgage rates possible for your situation, contact the pros at Altius Mortgage today.

Avoiding Common Credit Score Mistakes

Credit report with score on a desk

When it comes to obtaining mortgage loans, credit score is one of the single largest individual factors. Your credit score plays a big role in the kinds of mortgage rates you can get approved for and several other big factors, and having a score that’s too low can be a big obstacle in getting the best possible mortgage.

At Altius Mortgage and our partners at Mortgage Ogden, we’re here to help. Here are a few common credit mistakes that put people in a bad position for a mortgage, and how you can keep yourself from falling into these traps.

Falling Behind

The most common mistake here is falling behind on payments, which can often happen for reasons that aren’t entirely in our own control. But to whatever degree possible, you want to avoid this – late or missed payments are one of the easiest ways to lower your credit score, and it can take longer than you’d think to rebuild once this happens.

Consolidating

There are certain cases where it might be prudent to consolidate all your debt to a single card or account, but in advance of searching for a mortgage is not one of them. Moving all your balances to one card makes that card appear to have a very high debt-to-credit ratio, which is a big factor in your overall credit score. Instead, look to keep the debt percentage on each separate card as low as you can.

Maxing Out

The more of your available credit that’s in use, the lower your score will go. If possible, look to stay below 30 percent of your available credit in use at any given time, and never approach maxing out your cards.

Closing Out

Closing out accounts you aren’t using might seem smart, but it actually decreases your total available credit – in turn, this raises you debt percentage, as you’ll then be using a higher percentage of your available credit. Even if accounts are sitting with no outstanding debt, still keep each card.

Opening Too Quickly

On the flip side, applying for or opening too many accounts in a short period is a red flag and might lower your score. Only apply for credit you truly need, and try to put gaps between your applications.

For more on credit mistakes to avoid, or to learn about any of our mortgage services, speak to the pros at Altius Mortgage today.