Are you new to the real estate business? Or are you an owner of a house that you wish to sell, or someone who wants to buy a house? This article will provide you with all the information you and your agent need to prevent an identity thief to sell or buy a property from you. Read the following guidelines on what you and your agent should do to stop an identity theft:
#1. Agents should be completely attentive during any real estate transaction, regardless of what type. They must pay special mind to what information is being exchanged, and provide a secure enough storage area for it. For anyone to disguise as someone else they need some information about the person, make sure every useful information is secured.
#2. Real estate transactions involve tons of paperwork, and one is bound to forget that these documents actually contain some sensitive information about a client. Sometimes an agent does not control who sees these information and this is potentially dangerous. All documents should be locked away somewhere safe or encrypted with password.
#3. As a client, try to understand what each document means, your agent would be there to explain to you what you do not know. An agent should also make sure his client gives out personal information only when it is necessary. Information like social security number, credit card data or address is very sensitive in this case and could pose some real danger if it falls into the wrong hands, therefore warn your clients to be protective of such information.
#4. Hold on to your personal information as long as necessary until you have established a professional relationship with your agent and the transaction is under way. As stated before, information like social security number should be given out only when it is absolutely necessary, such as during credit checks and it should be given in person.
#5. The agent should not write the client’s social security number on any of the documents given to the client during closing. The Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) and Housing and Urban Development (HUD) documents, or any forms, should be passed on without the client’s personal information on them; at that point the w-9 form must have been completed by the client which contains his/ her taxpayer identity number.
#6. Get rid of all unnecessary documents. The best way to do this is to shred the documents, not merely throw them away which anyone, who knows what he is looking for, can find. Go the extra mile of knowing how every firm (mortgage, real estate and title firms) that was involved in the transaction get rid of their documents, and make sure to voice your concern to any firm that does not do it right.