Lately, my clients have been asking me about a fake preapproval letter they’ve received in the mail. Oh, and did I mention they’re getting fraudulent phone calls, too?
What’s the issue specifically?
Mortgage scammers send out bogus preapproval letters and phone calls to convince you to share your personal and financial information. These fake letters and phone calls are cleverly disguised to make you think they’re from a legitimate mortgage professional.
Today, I’m sharing how you can protect yourself from harmful financial deception.
WHY AM I GETTING A FAKE APPROVAL LETTER & PHONE SPOOFS?
There are many reasons why fake preapproval letters and phone spoofs are common. Most of the time, it comes down to old-fashioned greed.
Yet, not everyone is out to scam you.
Sometimes, other lenders get wind that your credit has been pulled, which produces a “trigger lead.” These trigger leads are easily accessible by other lenders who may send you sales materials that look like official documents.
How do they get these trigger leads? The credit bureaus sell your data whenever your credit is pulled for a new loan or credit card.
So, how can you protect yourself? Start by taking the following steps:
- Register your name at www.optoutprescreen.com to prevent the credit bureaus from selling your data when your credit is pulled.
- Add your number to the national Do Not Call list by going to www.donotcall.gov.
- Get yourself OFF mailing lists by visiting https://dmachoice.thedma.org/register.php.
These steps take a few minutes to complete and can mean the difference between getting scammed and protecting your financial well-being.
HOW TO SPOT A MORTGAGE SPOOF
Let’s start with fraudulent phone calls.
A “phone spoof” results when a scammer changes their caller ID in an attempt to appear legitimate and earn your trust so that you share your private information.
Here’s what to watch out for when receiving one of these phone calls:
- Don’t make any payments over the phone with a credit or debit card.
- Don’t believe someone if they say they’re calling from the government, Social Security Administration, or the Internal Revenue Service. The government would never have a call center rep phone you to collect money.
- Don’t give any personal information, such as your Social Security Number.
- Ask the caller what it’s regarding. If it’s about an issue you’ve never heard of before, then it’s likely a scam.
The best thing you can do is ask to be placed on their DO NOT CALL list. If the caller quickly hangs up, it was likely a scam.
The same thing happens with a fake preapproval letter received in the mail. Beware of the following:
- Envelopes with urgent text in a large, bright font.
- The letter isn’t on a recognizable Fairway Mortgage letterhead and has different logos.
- Language such as “we’ve been trying to reach you” or “FINAL NOTICE” are big red flags. The mortgage professional you’re working with should have no issue reaching you.
- An envelope with an unfamiliar return address.
I also recommend being suspicious of any mail that directs you to take specific actions like calling right away or providing your date of birth, banking information, or Social Security Number.
HERE’S WHAT ELSE YOU CAN DO TO PROTECT YOURSELF
Now that you know what to look for, you need to know how to protect yourself from fraudulent activity.
Here’s what I recommend for spoof phone calls:-
- Let the call go to voicemail. Listen to it later and determine if it’s real or not.
- Hang up if it’s a robocall. Don’t press any buttons.
- Report fraud with a toll-free number. Call 1-888-4FRAUD8.
What’s the most important thing you can do to avoid being scammed? CALL ME!
When you begin the mortgage process with me, I have your back. You’re welcome to call, email, or text me to see if you’ve received a fake preapproval letter or a spoof call. I’ll give you even more resources to protect your finances.
I entered the mortgage industry to help people build wealth on their terms. Scam letters and phone calls are dangerous, which is why you should work closely with a local mortgage expert that you trust. Contact me with any questions or concerns you have about getting a mortgage the right way.