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Return to sender: Watch your mail for scams

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There are many exciting things about moving into a new home. Junk mail is usually not one of them. It's one thing if you receive coupons for window treatments and discounts at nearby restaurants. But when you get official-looking letters demanding that you act quickly to shave years off your loan or pay for unnecessary documents, beware of potential scams.

Real estate records are public, and marketers use the information to update mailing lists and target homeowners after recent transactions. They may get your attention by citing details, such as your lender or realtor's names, or even the exact amount of your home loan.

Prepare for pre-payment offers

Ads promising to save you thousands of dollars and years off your mortgage are nothing new, but they may catch your eye once you have a mortgage. Don't fall for it.

Reputable lenders do not charge pre-payment penalties, so there is no need to pay fees to a third party for "helping" you do it.

When possible, it is wise to pay a little extra on the principal of your loan. Over time those payments may add up to a shorter loan term and significant interest savings. Talk to your lender about options suited to your situation.

… And for disability or life insurance offers

In each state, county offices record all home sales and refinanced mortgages, and insurance companies can obtain lists of these records. They use the information on these lists to send homeowners official-looking offers for disability and life insurance products that appear to be from their financial institution.

Not only are these offers confusing, but the products are not likely to be a good value. If you feel you need disability or life insurance to help cover your mortgage in the event of an illness or death, reach out to an insurance agent you already know and trust instead.

Pay no fees for document services

You might receive a letter offering to send copies of the deed or title of your new home in exchange for a fee. Do not respond to requests like this, no matter how formal they seem. First-time home buyers may be particularly susceptible to this scam since they may not be familiar with the real estate transaction process. You reviewed and signed necessary documents when finalizing the loan, and, if you haven't received them already, copies will be sent to you by the title company.

Remove your name from lists

The best way to stop getting unwanted ads is to get your name off those mailing and phone lists. Follow these links to learn more and submit your requests.

  • – Opt in and out of offers for credit and insurance at the official Consumer Credit Reporting website.
  • – Register your phone numbers with the Federal Trade Commission's national do-not-call registry.
  • – Use the mail and email opt-out service of the Direct Marketing Association.