As a property manager, it’s not surprising that you deal with a lot of personal information. With a plethora of resident and applicant information in your possession, you can never be too careful with other people’s sensitive information. You require applicants to provide you with this personal data so that you can judge their candidacy for renting your property, but, in doing so you have to protect that information in return. While that might sound like an easy task in theory, there are always little details that can be overlooked and potentially risk access to the data applicants have trusted you with.
So how can you protect the sensitive information you’re charged with safekeeping for applicants and residents? While there is no foolproof way to safeguard data, there are measures you can take to defend the information in your possession.
While it may go without saying, resident information is something that you shouldn’t be sharing. An applicant or resident is trusting you to use their information for what you’ve advertised to them (for purposes relating to your rental property and their potential place in it), and you should be the only one viewing it. Should anyone ask you for resident information, be sure not to release it without that person’s consent. It’s also important to minimize the amount of personal information when communicating. Email and the like may seem secure, but, should your account be hacked, someone would have access to any and all information that you’ve passed back and forth. It should also be noted that you shouldn’t email passwords, which would allow someone access to your other accounts as well. Another idea is to minimize the number of documents that ask applicants or resident for their social security number. While other information may be sensitive as well, you can reduce a document’s delicate nature by not asking for a social when it isn’t imperative.
The Obvious, but Overlooked
In this day and age, almost everything is done on some sort of device. Making sure your computer – or whichever device you may use – is secure is a must to protecting sensitive information. Running security checks and making updates when they come available is a good idea to keep your computer running smoothly and safely. Set strong passwords for your device and all of your accounts, and change them every three months or so. It can be tempting to write passwords down, but that acts as an invitation for anyone who may gain access to your office space. If you have resident and applicant data stored on a device, limit access to it by anyone you don’t want viewing this sensitive information. You wouldn’t want to store someone else’s personal information on a computer that anyone and everyone can use.
Destroy Information, Legally
There comes a time when you might not need to keep storing all the information that you are, and you want to get rid of some of the clutter. When disposing of documents, it’s important that you do it both properly and legally. The last thing you’d want is to get rid of information just for it to fall into someone else’s hands. It’s important to dispose of information properly, but it’s also a good idea to make sure that incoming personal data is protected as well. While a property manager can’t personally ensure that nothing happens to a resident’s mail, you can provide renters with a secure and sturdy mailbox to protect their packages.
Should something happen to the information in your possession, it is imperative that you let the affected parties know immediately. They can’t combat a breach of data that they don’t know exists, and you don’t want to be responsible for a horrendous event like identity fraud happening because you didn’t let someone know their information was accessed by a third party.
Personal data is invaluable, and something that people shouldn’t trust others with lightly. Having a profession that deals heavily with other people’s information is a big responsibility, and one that should be taken very seriously. As a property manager, you should be taking as many precautions as possible to protect the data passed onto you by residents and applicants, and ensuring that you deserve the trust they’d put in you.
How Do You Work to Protect Resident and Applicant Data?
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About the Author
Olivia Creighton is the Marketing & Communications Assistant here at the The CIC Blog. She recently obtained a degree in Media Communications from Webster University. In her spare time, she binge watches Stranger Things and works towards procuring her Master’s.