Tips for Safe Online Mortgage Shopping

By: Houston Neal

There has never been an easier time to take out a home mortgage loan. With the introduction of online mortgage lenders and the availability of mortgage information sites, homeowners now have the upper hand when it comes time to choose a lender. Not only are lenders competing for your attention by offering low rates, but you are also only clicks away from comparing loans, researching rates, and accessing mortgage resources. Though the learning curve can be intimidating at first and transferring your private information over the internet is not necessarily the most comfortable task. But, if you stick to a few simple guidelines and keep the following considerations in mind, then the process is a breeze.

Educate Yourself

One of the best ways to ease into shopping for an online mortgage is to educate yourself about the process. Many websites provide comprehensive information on the details of mortgage loans, the Home Equity Loan Process, refinancing, and more. Even lenders offer advice and can make your search as easy as one stop shopping.

Of course there are always more traditional ways to access loan information like visiting your local library or bookstore. In some cases there are even workshops and mortgage seminars available for homeowners and homebuyers interested in the loan process. But why leave your home when all the information you need is right at your fingertips.

Research Credentials

Another factor to keep in mind when mortgage shopping is to research the lender's credentials. This can be as easy as contacting them and speaking with them in person or referring to other trusted sources like the FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation) to confirm the lender's verification. Most online lenders will freely provide this information to you as they empathize with and understand your concerns about financing over the internet. 

If you still have any doubts about the company or get no reply then simply move along to one of the other numerous lenders. It's not worth risking your time and your personal information to wait for a reply from a lender. 

What's In A Name?

When shopping online most people trust bigger names and expect better protection from companies like Amazon or eBay. While there are some exceptions to the rule, it is always important to consider if the website has a trusted name and good reputation. This can typically be applied when shopping for mortgage lenders but there are situations when smaller merchants have better deals and it can be difficult to pass them up.  Overall, a good rule of thumb is the classic warning, “if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.”

Security Verification

Finally, if you have followed the above guidelines and are ready to apply for a loan, make sure the website has a secure server. Look for some form of security verification like a closed padlock, a key, or "https" displayed in the url. Many sites offer other types of secure connections and usually will display the encryption service they provide somewhere on the page.

Always suspect the suspicious though. If you are filling in a contact sheet and the site asks for your date of birth and social security number then be careful.  This type of information is enough for major credit card fraud and driver’s license fraud.  If you feel suspicious about the site then contact them and simply ask to speak with someone about their privacy policy.  Fortunately, many sites don’t require a social security number on their forms and can provide you with quotes from lenders without giving away sensitive personal information.

So next time you think about applying for a mortgage loan online take a moment to consider the following guidelines before committing to any one lender.  By educating yourself, looking for proper credentials, and verifying a site’s security, you can make the process easier and feel more confident in your loan decision.

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