As an Estate Agent or landlord, you handle a large volume of personal information.
Not only do you have to keep existing tenants' information on hand, but you also have information collected from prospective tenants during the rental process.
Collecting sensitive personal data is essential for thorough tenant referencing.
However, because of this abundance of personal information, more and more property managers are becoming targets of identity theft.
Loss of personal data can result in regulatory fines or potential third party claims under your Estate Agents Professional Indemnity Insurance.
Data Protection Act
If personal information that you are responsible for is obtained and used, you could be liable under the Data Protection Act 1998.
Unfortunately, when property managers or landlords are targeted, identity thieves usually take more than just one individual's information, which can result in costly fines.
To protect yourself, it is essential to take the appropriate measures to safeguard any personal information given to you by prospective, current and past tenants.
People are becoming increasingly concerned about how their personal information is handled.
The information a potential tenant discloses to you during the leasing process is essentially everything a criminal would need to successfully steal his or her identity.
Talking with prospective tenants about the safeguards you have in place can help them feel more comfortable releasing their personal information.
Professional Indemnity and Data Loss
Your Professional Indemnity Insurance policy will typically provide protection against loss of personal data.
However, other losses such as reputational damage and loss of related income can be extensive. Particularly if your business is impacted by negative PR in your local trading community.
It is now also possible to arrange specific Cyber Insurance and Data Breach cover, which can be extended to include reputational damage as well as assisting your business in managing the loss with regulators and PR agencies.
Cover can either be added to your Professional Indemnity policy or arranged as a standalone contact depending on your specific requirements.
Safeguards to Reduce The Risk
Identity thieves use several approaches to try and obtain personal information.
To prevent unauthorised access, you must institute safety measures that strictly manage how personal information is handled.
Here are some considerations for securing tenant information:
#1 Computer Protection
Keep electronic attackers from successfully accessing your network by password protecting files and keeping your virus protection and firewall up to date.
Also, avoid storing tenants' personal information on laptops that are frequently used outside the home or office and could be easily stolen.
If you need to access this information on the go, consider remote network access that will allow you to get the information you need from a central, secure location.
#2 Releasing Information
Personal data should be released only to those persons or organisations specifically authorised by the individual.
Never release personal information over the phone, through the post or electronically unless the receiver's identity has been confirmed as legitimate.
#3 Proper Disposal
Rubbish is a frequent target of identity thieves. To stop information from being picked out of the rubbish, use a shredder when discarding any paperwork that contains personal information.
FREE Business Insurance Review
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