Cyber-Security Tips for Home Buyers and Sellers
3.29.2022 | Category: Homebuying
When going through the home buying process, prospective home buyers and sellers all share a substantial amount of personal financial information. Oftentimes, home buyers and sellers must share things like their social security number, bank account information, proof of employment and previous addresses. But they aren’t as knowledgeable as a real estate agent in how that information will be protected against cyber-crime.
With so much information often shared digitally, it's important to educate prospective home buyers and sellers about how to protect their personal information from identity theft.
With many economic analysts expecting cyber-attacks to be on the rise, it's important to educate home buyers and sellers about what they can do to protect their identity from cybersecurity threats.
Watch for potential scammers
One of the most common phishing scams is an email that appears to be from someone you or your client may associate with asking for your username and password to your bank accounts. You might find that their name is slightly misspelled, or they use vagaries like no last name in their email signature. Another common form of fraud is a request to wire money from someone that appears to work at a financial institution.
Let your clients know that you would never ask for their username or password and that an email asking that information is likely a scam. Be sure to give your clients clear instructions when it's time to wire funds. This will help ensure your client’s money is safe from fraudsters.
Offer reputable referrals or recommendations
One of the most valuable offerings you can provide your client is a personal recommendation to other real estate professionals they might need to work with. From title to mortgage insurance, inspectors and contractors, your client is looking to you to have a network of professionals that have been thoroughly vetted.
Be sure that any professionals you are referring to your clients have a high standard for taking care of referrals and take steps to protect the identity of anyone they work with. The last thing you want to deal with is learning that a subcontractor you referred your client to mishandled their work and potentially put your reputation at risk.
Carefully check bank and credit card statements
Let your clients know to be on alert for any suspicious activity on their bank or credit card statements. The home buying process is a time when real estate and mortgage professionals will be combing through bank and credit card accounts to ensure your client is ready to purchase a home. Any suspicious activity could put a home's transaction into limbo if it can't be justified during underwriting.
Let them know to carefully examine any transactions at least weekly. Even small amounts that aren’t recognized could mean that a cybersecurity threat has occurred. If your client finds suspicious activity on their bank or credit card statement, they should alert their financial institution right away and work with you to ensure their home buying or selling process can stay on track. With quick action, the home purchase or sale shouldn't be derailed too much, but it might delay some approvals.
Be sure to use an encrypted or secure site
Before sharing any confidential information with your client or any other real estate agent or mortgage broker, ask what measures they take to keep information secure. Many real estate professionals will request you upload documents through a secure site or encrypted email server to ensure there are added layers of security when sending highly sensitive information.
Be prepared to answer questions about how long you keep information on file, how documents are destroyed securely and how you handle discrepancies in information you collect. You should also create and be prepared to share your cyber security policy and data breach response.
Every state has different policies and disclosure requirements so be sure you stay up to date on your state’s laws regarding personally identifiable information, the development and maintenance of cyber and data-related business policies, and other required security-related business practices.
Utilize an official app like the Mutual of Omaha Mortgage mobile app
Let your clients know that if they work with Mutual of Omaha Mortgage, they’ll have access to the Mutual of Omaha mortgage mobile app, featuring specialized support that allows home buyers and sellers to manage the process from start to finish.
Home buyers and sellers can get direct access to their mortgage loan specialist, and you can track the loan process right from your mobile phone wherever you are. Use your phone's camera to securely scan important documents and send encrypted files with the click of a button.
Ensuring your clients personal information is safe and secure is an important step in the home buying process. Because cybercrime can be so devastating to real estate professionals and their clients, be sure your clients are aware of what they can do to avoid cyber-crime.