You can apply for financing conveniently from your kitchen table for everything from a store credit card to a home mortgage in minutes now. There is no need to drive to banks or multiple banks and wait in line to see a loan officer that that has the changing facial expression at each line they read on an application and give the feeling of being back in grade school waiting for a teacher to render a verdict on the results of your book report. The convenience and ease is unquestionable, but is it safe to be sending your personal financial information out on the internet to who knows where?
Know How the Information is going
There are two keys to taking reasonable safety precautions when sending financial information over the internet. Know where the information is going and how it is being sent there. The second one is actually the simpler of the two procedures. Looking at the address line in your browser to see the details of the website you are on is very important. For example, an online mortgage application at this web address – https://www.1ststop.co.uk/homeloans/apply-online tells you by looking at the very beginning that it is a secure server and encrypted network.
The first part of the web address on a secure encrypted network will always start with https followed by the actual address. The piece of information you are looking for is “s” at the end of the http. That identifies it as a secure or encrypted server. If the “s” is not present then it means anybody along the path of travel in the whole internet can look at or read the information you send. If a website is asking for anything more personal than name and email address and it is not using the secure server , move on to a more trustworthy place.
Know Where the Information is going
The other issue, of where the information ultimately ends up takes a little more effort to determine the trustworthiness. This requires you to do some small research on your own and make a judgment call. The issues to be concerned with is are you sending your information to a finance lender or to a finance broker, or to a third party. Careful perusal of the website will usually make this clear. Somewhere in the wording you will find a credit disclosure saying they will be pulling a credit report and making a lending decision if it is an actual finance source. Usually you will need to click the box by the disclosure as an acknowledgement and permission for them to do this.
In the case of a broker, you will be submitting your information to one company with the intent that they will forward it to other companies. The idea is they use their expertise in determining the actual finance sources most likely to approve your application under the terms you have requested. The convenience is that they know more about the lenders than you do and save time by not submitting applications that have no chance of approval. The downside is most have “preferred lenders” so they do not actually guarantee the best source, simply the best out of the sources they work with (or the ones paying the highest referral fee to them). By looking up the reviews of the brokers you can usually establish their credentials. An example of a well-known broker would be https://www.lendingtree.com/. Lending Tree , like most real brokers make it very clear they are simply going to find you sources and do not actually lend out any money themselves. Also, understand they do not have the ability to give a final approval- you will need to complete the application with a final finance source. They will however have a license and be regulated by financial industries.
The most dangerous place to send your personal information is to the 3rd party referral places that litter the internet. Typically in small print somewhere you will see they have a disclosure that says they are not a lender or a broker. They will simply be selling your personal contact and financial information to anybody that wants to buy an advertising lead. They have virtually no oversight and no regulations to adhere to in the handling of your information. They are also most likely to have the blatant advertising that says guaranteed approval in 60 seconds and other such claims without having ever seen your credit history or information. The “approval” they mean, if they are above boards enough to disclose even, is they will approve your information to sale to brokers and finance sources. There is virtually no good reason to entrust your information to anybody that is not a licensed broker or lender.