Written by Equifax Reporter on June 30, 2017

The process of getting a mortgage always used to involve in-person meetings with lenders, but technology has changed that. Some prospective homebuyers are bypassing the traditional mortgage application process and opting to apply through an online mortgage lender, which may save time and sometimes offer more competitive fees and interest rates.

But with the amount of personal information required to obtain a mortgage, it’s a good idea to take extra steps to help better safeguard your data.

Here are some things you may want to think about if you’re considering applying for a mortgage

— Use reputable companies. If you’re unfamiliar with a lender, don’t hesitate to check with the Better Business Bureau to see if the company has a standing business license. Look for secure websites using “https” and a padlock, or a VeriSign logo before submitting any information. Reputable companies should also offer a contact number for you to call with any questions or concerns.

— Make sure you’re using a secured network. Never apply for a loan in a public place. Click for some recommendations from the Federal Trade Commission to secure your home WiFi network.

— Be careful sending information over email. Make sure the company uses a secured online portal that is password-protected for sensitive information. You may also consider faxing documents, but before doing so, be sure to confirm someone is on the receiving end to avoid blindly sending your documents.

— Review a lender’s policies on safeguarding information. Lenders should offer a privacy policy explaining how they protect personal data and whether it is shared with third parties. Some sharing is necessary; for example, mortgage lenders will check your credit report.

— Don’t respond to suspicious emails. If you receive an email that seems to be from your lender, but you don’t recognize the email address or it seems suspicious to you, call the lending company. Avoid responding to these emails or providing any personal information until you’ve verified whether the email is legitimate.

— Monitor your credit reports and bank accounts after you’ve applied for a mortgage. Keeping an eye on your credit reports and financial accounts may help spot suspicious activity early and, if your identity has been compromised, may help you begin the identity restoration process.

For more on internet security and helping better protect against identity theft, visit the National Cyber Security Alliance website.