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Guarding Against Identity Theft: Can Your New Home Mortgage Put You in Jeopardy?

Sheryl Landrum
LoanBiz Columnist

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When applying for a home mortgage loan, you expose your financial history to your loan officer. He knows your social security number, address and phone number, and your date of birth. All of your debtors are listed with your corresponding account numbers, your available balances, and your credit limits. Needless to say, you should be very careful in sharing this information. How disturbing, now, to find that the major credit reporting bureaus are taking your personal financial information and marketing it to mortgage loan lead generators.

Kenneth Harney in his Sunday Nation's Housing column in the San Diego Union Tribune on September 17, 2006 discusses the fact that "credit bureaus can sell loan applicants' info." Harney goes on to report that "Tim Summers, a Vice-President at Experian, one of the three dominant national credit bureaus (says)…that his company's Prospect Triggers program 'provides consumers with choice and potential significant cost savings by delivering relevant information at the decision-making point instead of weeks after a mortgage lending choice has been made.'"

How dare Experian presume that we cannot be trusted to make our own choices and put up for sale all of our relevant information to every Tom, Dick, and Harry in the mortgage loan business? I'm appalled, and you should be, too. Not only is this a horrid breach of confidentiality and a huge risk for identity theft, but do you really want to work with a stranger on your home mortgage? Say that you are purchasing a house and need a new home loan to close and make an earnest deposit. What if the lender you have worked with has lied to you or given you a loan that you did not agree to?

So what can you do to protect yourself? As a loan officer, I now provide the minimum amount of information to run a credit report, and I omit my borrower's phone number. One thing that you can do to prevent unwanted mortgage loan solicitations is to go online to www.optoutprescreen.com or call (888) 567-8688. Protect your identity and protect yourself. Shop for the best mortgage loan, but reveal your personal information to only those loan officers you trust.

About the Author
Sheryl Landrum is a Senior Loan Officer with First Capital Mortgage in San Diego and Prudential Realty in Bonsall, California.

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