Playing it safe: Protecting your privacy in the digital age
According to the Identity Theft Resource Center’s 2017 Data Breach Report, Americans lost $905 million due to fraudulent financial activities last year. And nearly 158 million had their social security numbers exposed in data breaches. What are you doing to protect your private information?
In today’s digital world, threats to data safety and privacy are par for the course. While some breaches are out of your control, you can help reduce threats by limiting the information you share and safeguarding what’s already exposed.
Tip #1 Choose unique passwords, but don’t get too personal.
We all know that strong passwords are the key to a safe digital experience. So, why is the most commonly used password still 123456? Common information, such as your birthday or phone number, is also easy for hackers to guess or crack using easily accessible software tools. Instead, make sure passwords are at least eight characters long, using a mix of letters, numbers and symbols.
Tip #2 Always shred critical documents.
While you don’t need to destroy every piece of paper with your name and address, you should take special care when disposing of documents that contain your:
- Social Security number (even just the last four digits)
- Date of birth
- Medical insurance numbers
- Credit card numbers
- Account numbers from financial institutions
Cleaning out your basement? Be sure to review old benefit or medical statements before tossing in the trash, as it was common until the late 1990s to list a patient’s social security number on every document. Instead, use a cross-cut shredder and dispose of in several garbage bags rather than just one.
Tip #3 Share your social security number wisely.
Unless it’s your bank, a credit bureau or some other entity that reports to the IRS, use caution when divulging your social security number — even the last four digits. If someone already knows your birthdate and address, your social security number is all they need to steal your identity and open new credit card accounts in your name.
Tip #4 Keep your “social” life private.
When it comes to social networking, check settings carefully to ensure only family and close friends can view photos and posts. Avoid answering quizzes about your favorite breed, book or family names, as many reveal common answers to security questions. Finally, refrain from posting far-flung check-ins or vacation photos until you’re safely home.
Tip #5 Check links before you click.
Receive an email you suspect might be a phishing attempt? Look at the complete sender’s address rather than simply the “From” field. Chances are, firstname.lastname@example.org isn’t the real thing. Many banks have dedicated email addresses to which you can forward suspected fraudulent emails. Check their websites under “Fraud Alerts” or “Phishing” for details.
Protecting what’s yours
Your home is one of the biggest investments you want to protect. And a reverse mortgage loan from Reverse Mortgage Funding (RMF) can help you maintain your investment — or make a new one. A reverse mortgage allows homeowners and homebuyers age 60 and older to borrow against the equity in their home, providing access to immediate funds or a line of credit to supplement income, pay for healthcare or make home renovations. This type of loan can help delay the need to tap into retirement savings, allowing individuals to retain ownership of their home* and have more control over their finances.
Learn more about reverse mortgages
Large or small, we all have financial assets to safeguard. Smart financial planning is the key to protecting what’s important and securing the resources you need for a comfortable retirement. Call RMF today at (888) 277-1567 to set up a convenient phone appointment with a licensed reverse mortgage specialist.
SEE WHAT FUNDS YOU MAY HAVE AVAILABLE
If you have equity in your home and believe you meet the eligibility requirements, a HECM may be the option that could help you retire smart.
*As with any mortgage, you must meet your loan obligations: keeping current with property taxes, homeowners insurance and any homeowners association (HOA) fees, and keeping your home in good condition.
Equity Elite Reverse Mortgage (“Equity Elite”) is Reverse Mortgage Funding LLC’s proprietary loan program, and it is not affiliated with the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) loan program, which is insured by FHA. Equity Elite is available to qualified borrowers who may also be eligible for HUD, FHA’s HECM program or are seeking loan proceeds that are higher than HUD, FHA’s HECM program limit. Equity Elite currently is available only for eligible properties in select states. Please contact your loan originator to see if it is currently available in your state.
Upon a maturity event, any non-borrowing individuals with an ownership interest in the property, including non-borrowing spouses, will have 90 days to purchase the property from the estate or, if the non-borrower inherits the property, pay the loan in full using any sources of funds available to them. Any non-borrowing individual, including a non-borrowing spouse, should have a plan to pay off an Equity Elite reverse mortgage upon the borrower’s death or any other maturity event. If the non-borrower is unwilling or unable to purchase the property or pay the loan in full, there is no protection for the non-borrower (including a non-borrower spouse) to maintain an interest in the home or to continue residing in the home past the maturity event and the non-borrower may be evicted upon foreclosure. The FHA HECM program has protections in place for certain non-borrowing parties, so a reverse mortgage applicant with certain non-borrowing parties should strongly consider a FHA-insured HECM loan (see HECM guidelines or ask an RMF representative for details). Under the Equity Elite reverse mortgage loan program, a maturity event occurs when the last surviving borrower no longer lives in the home as his or her primary residence for at least 12 months, the property charges (including taxes, insurance, HOA dues or any other property charges) are not paid, required repairs are not completed or the property is not maintained, or any other maturity event, as specified in the Security Instrument, occurs.