Almost everything is easier when you do it online — whether it’s arranging a dentist appointment or buying groceries. Even getting an online line of credit is more convenient than one you’d apply for in person.
This much you know from your snug spot on the couch, laptop open and ready to find a financial institution. But before you hit apply, you’ll need to know the scoop on online security.
You should protect your info anytime you go online, but it’s especially important when it comes to getting a line of credit. One misstep could expose your personal information, handing the keys to your financial profile to eager fraudsters.
Keep your data safe the next time you look for an online line of credit by checking out the tips below.
Work with a Licensed Financial Institution
An online line of credit can come from a variety of places — from household names to up-and-coming mobile services.
But how can you tell if it’s a legitimate company if you’ve never heard of it before? Look for a license!
The only way a financial institution can get and maintain this license is if they abide by the state lending laws it does business in. A license also proves they follow broader federal laws, including those that protect your privacy.
Check Their Online Reputation
A license is the bare minimum that proves a financial institution isn’t providing predatory or abusive loans. But it doesn’t tell you anything about the character of their business, like how they treat their customers.
You may find the answer to that question in online reviews. Read what previous customers have had to say about their experiences.
Do they sing their praises, or do they want to air their grievances?
Demand Transparency at Every Step
An online line of credit shouldn’t be complicated. These three things should be abundantly clear:
- How it works
- How much it will cost you
- When you’ll have to pay it back.
If any of this information is hard to understand, reconsider signing your name against the dotted line. Unnecessarily complicated language is usually a coverup for costly hidden fees.
Without a clear understanding of these line of credit terms, you may inadvertently:
- Sign up for something you can’t afford
- Use it in a way that costs you more money
- Miss an important due date.
Use Strong Passwords
The password you choose for this account is the first line of defense against cyber theft, and it needs to be up to the task.
Using the same password as the one that protects your Instagram profile, mobile wallet, and e-banking account isn’t a good idea.
But a unique password isn’t enough, either. It has to be hard to crack by anyone with a passing knowledge of your life. This means no names, birthdates, or phone numbers.
Instead, try use a random mixture of letters, numbers, and special characters. If you have a hard time remembering a random assortment of characters, check out these password managers to help you do it.
An online line of credit is only as safe as you let it be. Ignore these tips, and you may wind up applying for a loan that gets you into financial hot water. But by researching these options carefully and remembering that your privacy is your priority, you’ll be able to find a financial institution that protects your personal information.