Once you go online, you become a potential target for cybercriminals and social engineers. These perpetrators try to manipulate users into revealing personal information, and their malicious methods are constantly evolving. Submittal of loan applications through the internet poses its own risks. Here are ten ideas to help you stay safe.
- Realize that you also are a target
You may think that identity theft is something that happens with others and could never harm you. However, anyone can fall victim to the crime. Moreover, the Internet has made the job of identity thieves much easier.
- Use trusted sites only
You may be sure you are entering your data on a lender’s website when in fact it is an impostor page. Sites like this mimic legitimate sources in order to collect sensitive details of unsuspecting users.
- Do not use public Wi-Fi
It may be tempting to connect to the Internet for free. However, the network you choose may be fake. Such impostor networks are set up by cybercriminals for the sole purpose of data theft.
- Use a VPN
In order to enhance defenses further, use a VPN. If you still connect to a fake network or site, your session will be encrypted and thus hidden from hackers. Bear in mind that since a virtual private network masks your IP, you should choose servers located in your area. Otherwise, sites with geographic restrictions could deny you access.
- Never share data via email
Sending any documents by email is outrageously reckless. What if your mailbox gets hacked? What if the lender’s email client is compromised? You wouldn’t like a third party to get scans of your ID, would you?
- Avoid phishing
This refers to emails that look like they’ve come from your lender, but are actually fake. Once you click the link in such a message and enter the requested personal information, it lands in hackers’ hands.
If the page where you enter details has an HTTPS address instead of the usual HTTP, this points the use of protective encryption.
- Check your lender
Collect as much information about the lender as possible. Can you find genuine customer feedback on it elsewhere? Is the institution officially licensed? If the site was created a few months ago, you had better steer clear.
- Submit documents offline
If the company has brick-and-mortar offices in addition to online presence, this is another good sign. Whenever possible, opt for in-person submittal instead of digital exchange.
- Use recommended lenders
Finally, it is always best to use the services of companies that have already helped out someone you know. Well-established review websites with an expert comparison of platforms are another decent source of tips.