Thanks to the Internet, the entire real estate process has gotten a lot easier. You can find homes and research prices online, and you can even request quotes from mortgage lenders with less time and effort than in the past.

And while these are certainly good things, you must also exercise a bit of caution when getting home loan quotes via the Web. You need to protect your personal information at all times, and you need to learn about the various companies that offer this kind of web-based service. This calls for some light “detective” work on your part, and that’s what I’m going to teach you in this article.

Before we get to the actual steps involved in this process, let me offer you some good news. With a little research and common sense, you can benefit from the convenience and efficiency of online mortgage quotes while protecting your identity at the same time. Using video identity verification for your clients is a great idea to help keep their identity secure. There are plenty of reputable companies that offer these services. Of course, there are some scams out there as well, but these will be fairly easy to spot once you read this article.

Without further ado, here are five ways to protect your identity while getting loan offers via the Web:

1. Go With the Names You Know

Generally speaking, it’s best to use a company you’ve heard of before when requesting mortgage quotes through the Internet. Here’s why. The fact that you’ve heard of them suggests that the company spends a lot of time, energy and money on their brand name. Such a company will go a long way to protect its reputation and brand, and they do this by providing a good service and looking after their customers. Personally, I would never offer sensitive information to an unknown company — too much of a wild card for my comfort. I recommend you do the same.

2. Look for the ‘S’ in the Web Address

A website that is truly secure have the letter ’s’ in the prefix of the website address / URL. This means the site is encrypted to keep hackers and identity thieves out, as much as possible anyway. When you visit a lender’s website — and before you transmit sensitive information through the site — check the web address that appears in your Internet browser. If it’s truly a secure website, there should be an “https://” prefix before the “www” part. Note the all-important letter ’s’ in that prefix. If the address starts with “http://www” (lacking the letter ’s’), then it’s not a secure site.

3. Look for Third-Party Verification

Reputable mortgage companies will go the extra mile to have ensure their websites are secure for visitors. This will often include the use of third-party verification of site security. In other words, the company will hire another company to test and verify the secure areas of their website. You’ve probably even seen the certification seals on financial websites in the past. A common one is the “TRUSTe” seal of approval. In most cases, you can actually click on the image / seal to check the security status of the site you’re on.

Conclusion and Going Forward

Using the Internet is a great way to get quotes for a home loans while saving time and energy in the process. You just have to exercise a little caution along the way. Follow the safety guidelines I’ve provided above when requesting mortgage offers via the Web, and you should be fine. And remember this mantra of Internet safety and security … when in doubt, back on out!

Citation Note: The original version of this article was written by Brandon Cornett. Brandon is the publisher of the Home Buying Institute, which includes one of the largest libraries of mortgage advice for home buyers.

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