Home is Where Your Heart Is. And Your Identity.

by Washington Federal Team on March 27, 2015

Identity Theft Risks Among New Homeowners

In a commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting in 2013 on behalf of LifeLock, adults 18 and older were surveyed online. We compared the general population to people who identified themselves as new homeowners within the last 12 months with those who said they were victims of identity theft for a closer look at what may cause risk after this big purchase.

Picture-Perfect House

New homeowners are almost three times as likely as the rest of the population to be a victim of identity theft. To understand what kind of behavior is causing vulnerability to identity theft, we took a closer look at some of the risky behaviors that were associated with identity theft and people embarking on this new chapter of their life:

Sharing personal information. New homeowners are asked to fork over a lot of information about themselves, so at some point it simply becomes routine. This is why it’s more important than ever to remember to refrain from posting addresses and Social Security numbers on social media; new homeowners are more than twice as likely and five times as likely to post these pieces of information, respectively.

Accessing your financial information. When you purchase a home, many people evaluate your finances, so it’s a good idea to keep close tabs on your money. Using online banking is convenient, but increases the risk of identity theft. This group is nearly three times more likely to be online using personal finance management services. And, 30 percent of new homeowners are not using anti-virus or computer security software to protect themselves.

Letting strangers in the house. From small updates and cleaning to major repairs, updating your new home can bring many new strangers in the house. New homeowners are 2.8 times more likely to bring unattended strangers home.

Decorating. Making a house your own is the fun part. It also involves purchasing a lot of new items. New homeowners are 2.7 times more likely to make purchases over the phone and more likely to buy items online.

Giving a virtual tour. You worked hard to make your new home beautiful through new additions, decorating and yard work, so you probably feel like snapping a few photos to show it off. New homeowners are twice as likely to post photos on file-sharing sites such as Flickr, Shutterfly and Snapfish, and social networking sites that emphasize photo-sharing, such as Pinterest and Instagram.

Tips for New Homeowners

  • Always keep your computer current with software updates. Both Macs and PCs have automated updating programs that can help you manage the process so you don’t have to think about it.
  • Use an antivirus program and make sure to update it regularly, so that you are protected when new vulnerabilities are discovered.
  • Lock up your personal information, especially your Social Security number, and be careful about who you leave unattended in your home.
  • Try not to disclose your Social Security number on paperwork. Many offices unnecessarily collect this information.
  • Be careful about what you choose to share online.

Do you need help keeping your identity safe? Washington Federal is excited to offer LifeLock’s services at a special 10% lifetime discount on LifeLock protection plans. LifeLock is the national leader in identity theft protection. LifeLock helps safeguard your finances, credit, and good name. Enroll in-person at any Washington Federal branch or call 1-800-324-9375. Find out more at washingtonfederal.com/lifelock.

Information and blog post courtesy of LifeLock Inc.

House Photo for Blog

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