Identity Theft And The Property Management IndustryIn recent years, the likelihood of becoming a victim has increased from 1 in 15 to 1 in 3.  According to the FTC, of the 2 million plus complaints they had in 2012, 70% were related to Fraud and Identity Theft.

Most property managers are aware of HIPAA privacy, but although they’re aware of the Red Flags Rule, most property management companies don’t have a Privacy Policy in place to deal with Identity Theft.

Among the businesses that have such a policy, few have fulfilled the requirements of training ALL staff (even 1099 subcontractors) to follow the policy and educating them about the importance of protecting the confidential information collected through the property management business.

This is a huge mistake. If your property management company is sued, you need to be able to show that you took basic precautionary measures to ensure the protection of the personal identification data you hold.

Data Breach: An Inside Job

According to a recent survey noted in the IT Business Edge on June 6 2013 Human Error Continues as a Primary Cause to Data Breaches. Most of this could be prevented with simple ID Theft education on a regular basis.  For example, the Healthcare community is accustomed to regularly training staff on HIPAA. The property management community should do the same with FACTA & Red Flags.

As the prevalence of Identity Theft grows, and the amount of time and money it takes to attempt to put the victim’s life back in order increases, consumers are lawyering up and attempting to recoup their time and financial losses from whomever they can.  This can be VERY costly to the business that had the breach and would put most companies “Out of Business”.  Even if your company isn’t the business that lost the information, the accusation itself and defending your company, could be very costly indeed.

Fact:  We are all at risk of Data Breach

Fact:  We all need to have a policy in place to:

  1. Document how we protect information.
  2. Deal with it when it happens

Fact:  We all need to train our staff about ID Theft

Fact:  We are all at risk

Chasing the Compliance Dog

Warning:  There are many companies out there that will say they can “Keep You Compliant,” but don’t be fooled.  Chasing compliance is like chasing your tail. You won’t ever catch it.  The best you can do is the implement best practices.

These companies want to charge hundreds or thousands of dollars per employee and this is just not necessary. Don’t be fooled.

There are a lot of resources at hand that range from inexpensive to downright free and you should be taking advantage of them. For instance, LandlordSource offers a Red Flags Office Policy product (only $25!!) that makes it easier for you to comply. As a representative of LegalShield products, I can also help you implement strategies and train your personnel.

Bottom line…identity thieves know what kind of information property managers and others in the rental industry have. Don’t think for a minute those files aren’t targets.

The question is: What has your property management company done so far to protect yourself and your clients, and are you ready if data breach happens to you?

Vicky Methven LegalShield Representative for Property ManagersVicky Methven, CITRMS
National Affiliate: NARPM
LegalShield – Independent Associate
[email protected]
Twitter @vickymethven




Disclaimer: LandlordSource does not represent the article content in this website as legal advice. It is shared information only and up to the reader to use this information responsibly, seeking legal advice as necessary to their business.