By Al and Jean Batson

In May, we discussed how your credit report and FICO score impacts obtaining a loan for a home purchase. Your credit score is also important when you want to purchase a car, appliances, computers and other major items.

With hacking and fraud so prevalent today, it is also important to be cautious with your private/credit information. We all know that our information is lurking somewhere on the internet with unsavory people anxious to get ahold of it. But there are steps you can take to protect your privacy.

• Don’t use a public WIFI (hotel, coffee shop), which may not be secure, to access your bank or personal information. That includes making purchases with your credit card online.

• Email hackers abound. If you receive an email with nothing but a link, even from someone you know, DON’T OPEN UP THE LINK. [notify the sender who will likely tell you they didn’t send it] Opening a link could lead to a virus or a hack into your personal information. It’s not uncommon.

• And, of course, if you receive an email from someone unknown, never open the link.

• Be careful of knock-off emails as well. An example would be Amazon or a Bank – it can look like the familiar website or logo but…is the spelling correct in the email address? Be cautious. There is no shortage of scammers trying to get your personal information. Any contact asking for personal information or verification can be suspect.

• If you think your identity has been compromised, go to all three credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) to freeze your accounts – it may cost a few dollars, but it protects you. Thus, if someone tries to get credit in your name, you would be notified to verify the request. If you confirm that you did not request a new card or change your address, the bank will stop the request to get a card in your name. If you want to apply for credit yourself, you can unfreeze your account for 24-hours.

• To check your score, go to: www.annualcreditreport.com or by calling 1-877-FACT-ACT.

• Also, never give your credit card or bank information to any telephone solicitor. You never know who is really calling. If we get a call from a charity or police/fire association, we ask them to please mail us their information because we never respond to telephone solicitations or give our personal information on the telephone. Funny, we never get anything in the mail from that so-called charity.

Note: if you want to support our first responders (fire/police), the legitimate way is the 100 Club of Arizona (www.100club.org)

Do you have a question relating to real estate? Please email me at: Jean@AlandJeanBatson.com