Protect Yourself Against Identity Theft

By Sheryl Landrum
Mortgage Credit Problems Columnist

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The key to a good mortgage loan and a good interest rate is good credit! Whether you are looking at a new home purchase, a cash-out refinance of an existing mortgage, a home equity loan, or home equity line of credit, your ability to qualify for a good mortgage loan versus a bad credit mortgage loan is FICO score dependent.

While paying your bills on time, keeping your available credit low in relation to your available balance, and developing a long credit history helps to ensure higher credit scores, protecting yourself against identity theft is one of the best ways to keep your credit scores high and to avoid the highest mortgage interest rates.

Take These Steps to Protect Your Identity and Avoid Bad Credit

  • Check your credit report at least once a year. If you don't have a good lender who you work with, go to an online service such as www.annualcreditreport.com and obtain a free credit report. Your credit report will show all of your credit activity and is a good place to see if someone else is enjoying your identity.
  • Secure personal information. This means shredding mail, statements, and receipts that contain personal information and account numbers. Keep bank, and other financial documents, in a secure place.
  • Do not give out personal information over the phone, and be very cautious when responding to promotions.
  • Do not carry your social security card with you and minimize the number of credit cards you carry.
  • Have a mailbox that you can lock. If you are planning a vacation, have your mail held at the post office or picked up by a friend.
Identity theft is a billion dollar a year industry. Don't become a victim. Protect your identity while defending yourself from bad credit and a bad credit home loan.

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