When Equifax issues a warning specifically directed at online house hunting, real estate searchers (including readers right here) have ample reason to pay attention. You probably recall from last September how Equifax admitted to having been victimized by one of the most massive data breaches in internet history. Among the 143,000,000 Americans affected by the personal data collection firm’s lapse were more than a few irritated Western Slope residents—many of whom accepted Equifax’s offer of a year’s worth of free credit monitoring.
So when Equifax decides that “online house hunting” is an area where web users should be especially cautious, their specific cautions are worth passing on. “Keep online security in mind as you start your digital home search” may belong under the “goes without saying” heading—but some other specifics bear repeating:
- Allow automatic updates to be sure you’re using the latest versions of your operating system and browser
- Don’t ever use a public Wi-Fi network when sending personal data (or logging onto financial sites)
- Use strong passwords. Since you shouldn’t use the same one everywhere, you’ll have to keep track of them in an organized manner—but not in a digital file you name “Passwords”!
In addition, it’s important to be cautious whenever you click on a link that takes you away from a site you trust. Hover over links to check out the destination URL (the web address): the creepy ones are either gobbledygook combinations of letters and numbers, or (more sneakily) address names that look like trustworthy site names, but which differ by one or two characters. As Equifax notes, some security software alerts you if a URL has malicious links—which is a good reason to specify automatic updates for your security software, too.
Of course, whenever you do your online house hunting from my site, rigorously safeguarding the information you send me is a top priority. If you wish, we’ll keep you informed of new listings that match your wish list—it’s the safe way to do your online house hunting.