Posted on: 17 October 2018

Keeping personal data safe

Being a landlord or a property owner, you will have access to sensitive information about your tenants, previous tenants and even prospective tenants. Some of the information you gather can be a legal requirement, other information may be collected for good practice. This vast amount of information has led to property owners becoming targets of cyber attackers looking to source personal data.

When you collect or process personal data about your tenants, you become subject to the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR), which can lead to serious reprimands if breached. Knowing more about safeguarding measures and how to protect data can help to make any information you store remain safe.

Online criminals are constantly finding new ways of obtaining information, however there are proven methods to keep information that you store safe.

Ways to secure your tenants’ data

Device Protection

Some identity thieves have been able to access personal information from hacking into electronic devices such as computers, laptops or mobile phones. Hackers can be stopped from accessing information stored on these devices by having password protected files, antivirus software installed and keeping firewalls up to date. Any personal information should be stored on a device that is not easily lost or stolen, such as a desktop computer. Keeping this information on portable devices such as a USB or portable hard drive runs the risk of falling into the wrong hands if stolen or lost.

Releasing Information

Your tenant’s personal data should not be shared with anyone unless permission is given from them. Information should never be released over the phone unless the identity of the tenant can be confirmed. Information can be provided to police officers without consent from the tenant, but only if they provide a standard request for information form.

Proper Disposal

Thieves will go to serious lengths to obtain information, and will even go through discarded waste to collect it, so make sure that any documents containing personal information are properly disposed of. Using a shredder can help to protect personal information, although using a confidential waste removal service may offer a more effective method of completely destroying information.

Communicating with tenants

Whenever sending post or emails, include as little information as possible, as these communications can be intercepted if not secured. If you must send sensitive information, ensure that electronic documents are encrypted. Printed documents should also be sent securely, or if possible, delivered by hand.

Keep tenants informed

Keeping your tenants informed of how their data is used helps to build trust. Clearly outline how you intend to use their data, keep it safe or dispose of it. Under the GDPR regulations, you are required to inform individuals that their data has been compromised within 72 hours.

Your team

If you have employees, they may have access to information that a tenant provides, so choosing the right staff who can be trusted with this information is vital. If an employee leaves the company, ensure that all of their access privileges are revoked and, if necessary, passwords are changed.

Insurance policies to cover data

Whilst there are plenty of methods of keeping information protected, identity thieves are always finding a new way. Cyber insurance has become an even more important insurance cover, because whilst you can’t be certain that data will be safe, you can ensure you are protected if things do go wrong. Cyber insurance typically covers against hacking, data theft and system infringement which can come from a range of cyber-attacks. It can also cover cyber insurance covers breach costs, cyber business interruption, hacker damage, cyber extortion, crisis containment, privacy protection and media liability.

Source: Zywave Inc. Property Management Risk Insights: Protect Tenant Information from Identity Theft

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