How do you freak out half of the country? Tell them all one of the main credit companies has had a breach and now your Social Security number and everything about you is a free-for-all on the market. That was Equifax last week. Millions of Americans suffered in the Equifax packing and although they are doing their best to compensate people, the damage has already been done. So how does this affect homebuyers?
If you’re planning on buying a home or you are in the process of buying a home, your information is been compromised, which could lower your chances will ruin your chances altogether of getting a home loan. Those who are already in escrow could be declined when the lender runs a credit just before the loan closes and discovers any fraudulent activity on new accounts or charges that could raise your debt to income ratio. If you had really locks, they could be blown to smithereens as you scramble to get your files corrected. The entire loan transaction could be jeopardized if the process takes too long and you fall out of contracted time frames.
So what is a homebuyer to do?
First of all, you have to check to see if you were potentially impacted even if you have never dealt directly with Equifax. The credit reporting agency could still have a lot of your personal information. In order to chat, you have to go to the Equifax website and enter your last name and the last six numbers of your Social Security number. You can sign up for their protection for one year free of charge but at the very least, it’s important to get a copy of your credit history through annualcreditreport.com to verify any errors, mistakes or fraudulent activity.
Another option would be to freeze all of your credit activity. However, this could potentially damage or score or negatively impact you in several ways, including the home buying process.At the very least it’s important to get fraudulent alerts. Anything that might be considered fraudulent should be monitored and notified right away. This isn’t just about buying something online, this could go as far as buying a home under a different person’s name or using your Social Security number to open up new credit cards and rack up tons of debt.
Knowledge really is power and the more you know and understand about your own finances and credit report, the better you will feel, even though knowing can be scary.
If you’re planning on buying a home in the near future it’s important to understand and feel confident about your credit history and report. Get a copy of it today and verify all the information. You might consider services like LifeLock that monitors web activity and ability theft protection.