When you put your house on the market, you may be putting more than your home up for sale. You could be putting your personal information out there for any fraudster to find. Identity thieves are taking advantage of home sales as an opportunity to get inside and look around, hoping to find private information they can use to commit identity fraud.

Before you list your home, make sure you’re protected. IdentityProtector monitors the web for the illegal trading and selling of your private information and alerts you if we detect anyone trying to use that information. By understanding your risks and taking some extra precautions, you can prevent identity thieves from taking advantage of your home sale.

Your Listing Tells a Lot About You

Simply listing your home gives identity thieves information they can use to commit fraud. Your address is on every listing. If you’re selling the house yourself, your name and phone number are also included. If your listing contains images or videos, these can give potential thieves insight into the layout of your home, possible vulnerabilities, and even hot spots where they might find identity information.

Open Houses are Open Invites for Identity Thieves

Open houses are a great way to get several families into your home at one time, but they are also an opportunity for anyone to look around your house—even identity thieves. Your agent will probably direct potential buyers to look around on their own, so they feel more comfortable. While this strategy may increase the chances of a sale, it also means strangers will have access to every part of your home, with no one looking over their shoulders. If there’s anything of value, there’s nothing preventing them from grabbing it.

You’re Going to Give Your Information to a Lot of People

When selling your home, you need to provide private information for offer letters and the variety of legal requirements that go into home sales. Your agent will need to know when you’re going to be away, and they’ll want a key to share other agents who want to look inside your home. If you’re also buying a new house, you’ll also need to provide your Social Security number, date of birth, and other private information in order to get pre-approved for a new mortgage.

IdentityProtector can help you manage this risk by monitoring for the misuse or attempted sale of your private information. Use Promo Code FAMILYDISCOUNT20 at checkout for 20% off an entire year.

You Can Protect Your Identity When Selling Your Home

When selling your home, there are some simple steps you can take to minimize your risk of becoming a victim of identity theft:

-Only work with trusted companies

Stick to reputable realtors who are well-established in your community. If you’re also buying a new home, only work with reputable mortgage companies and insurance providers. If you’re not sure, check with the Better Business Bureau and the local Chamber of Commerce.

-Scan your images for vulnerabilities

Before your real estate agent comes over to take photos (or before you take your own photos), remove anything from your home that might look enticing to identity thieves. A safe, filing cabinet, or mail center are all tempting targets. Make sure there are no personal photos or private documents in the background of your images, which could provide more information that you intend to share.

If you include video in your listing, shoot each room separately, rather than doing a home walkthrough. You don’t want to give thieves an exact map to your home office.

-Secure your private information
Identity thieves can’t steal what they can’t get their hands on. Make sure any paperwork that contains your personal information or any financial documents are locked in a safe or removed from your home. Things you should remove include:

• Any documents that contains your date of birth or Social Security number.
• Old credit card statements.
• Medical statements.
• Credit card offers or other junk mail.
• Calendars that could contain information about times you’ll be away.

-Password protect your computer and portable devices
Our computers and portable devices contain vast amounts of personal data, such as the passwords to our online banking systems, stored credit card numbers, private photos, even our medical history.

When you leave your home for a showing, take your portable devices with you. For anything you can’t take with you, such as your desktop computer or a SmartTV with a built-in browser, create a secure password and make sure the device is locked or shut down before you leave.
Selling your home should be an exciting time, as you look forward to purchasing a new home, moving to a new location, or pocketing some extra cash for your next family vacation. By taking a few extra steps when you prepare your home for a sale, you can make sure identity theft doesn’t get in the way of those exciting next steps.

For those things you can’t control, IdentityProtector can help. We’ll alert you if we detect your identity information being used to apply for new loans or credit cards, so if someone does get their hands on your information, you can stop them from damaging your future.