As real estate agents, you may have access to personal information on home buyers and sellers. This may include names, birthdates, addresses, social security numbers, checking account information, investment account details, etc. You have a responsibility to keep that information secure. Here are a few tips on protecting client privacy.
Add Passwords to Laptops
So much information is transmitted electronically these days. Your laptop probably contains quite a bit of personal information that you may have received via email. Imagine your laptop is stolen out of your home or from your car. Can thieves simply turn on the computer and access all of that information? It is important to password protect your computer! There are also options to create encrypted drives on your computer that are backed up to the cloud. Should your laptop get stolen, you can remotely wipe that content while still having access to a copy on the cloud server.
Secure Cell Phones
Another place that you may receive emails and documents is on your phone. Be sure to password protect that as well. Many phones have the option to wipe the hard drive if there are 10 failed password attempts. This is a great extra level of security to protect the information on the phone.
Delete and Empty the Trash
You may elect to delete certain emails and/or certain files on your computer. Keep in mind that the delete function is not always what it seems. For example, deleting an email or document may simply move it to a trash folder. This is a temporary holding place. You may need to empty that trash bin to actually remove it.
Shredding a document is no longer entirely secure. Computer programs are available to take shredded strips and re-assemble them! Make sure important documents are properly disposed of even after they are shredded. Also, a cross shredder (which shreds in two directions rather than just in long strips) will make it a little more difficult to recompile documents.
Make Protecting Client Privacy a Priority
You have access to privileged information as a NH real estate agent, but with that comes added responsibility. Be conscious about protecting client privacy and take extra measures to ensure that you are doing everything that you can to prevent that information from getting into the wrong hands.