Renter Information Security Has Never Been More Important – Here’s How to Do It Right

With the holidays coming up and more people shopping online than ever, identity theft is a greater risk than ever. While it’s up to your residents to protect their digital information, it’s up to you to secure the personally identifiable information (or PII) that your management team has records of. From information on the application, resident screening report, or rent check information, it’s vital that you know the ins and outs of why protecting your applicants’ and residents’ PII is so important.

What is Personally Identifiable Information (PII)?

With the holidays coming up and more people shopping online than ever, identity theft is a greater risk than ever. While it’s up to your residents to protect their digital information, it’s up to you to secure the personally identifiable information (or PII) that your management team has records of. From information on the application, resident screening report, or rent check information, it’s vital that you know the ins and outs of why protecting your applicants’ and residents’ PII is so important.

Personally identifiable information is simply information that can be used to identify an individual. Some examples of PII that can be, or is used as, direct identifiers are social security numbers and passport information. PII that is used in combination with other information (also known as quasi-identifiers) can be a person’s date of birth or residence address. If you manage or view rental applications and resident screening reports, you deal with your applicants’ and residents’ PII all the time.

What is Personally Identifiable Information (PII)?

Personally identifiable information is simply information that can be used to identify an individual. Some examples of PII that can be, or is used as, direct identifiers are social security numbers and passport information. PII that is used in combination with other information (also known as quasi-identifiers) can be a person’s date of birth or residence address. If you manage or view rental applications and resident screening reports, you deal with your applicants’ and residents’ PII all the time.

Make Sure You’re Getting the Right PII

Even before your applicant becomes a resident, you’ll want to make sure you’re truly getting the right information from the get-go. This not only applies to ensuring all the boxes and fields on the application are filled out so you can run a background check, but that the resident screening report itself is accurate.

If you haven’t already, ask your resident screening provider about their accuracy. At CIC, our social security trace verifies each applicant’s identity. Once their identity is verified, we base their information off of reported names and addresses of known criminal aliases. That way, you know that you have the right information to base your final rental decision off of.

Make Sure You’re Getting the Right PII

Even before your applicant becomes a resident, you’ll want to make sure you’re truly getting the right information from the get-go. This not only applies to ensuring all the boxes and fields on the application are filled out so you can run a background check, but that the resident screening report itself is accurate.

If you haven’t already, ask your resident screening provider about their accuracy. At CIC, our social security trace verifies each applicant’s identity. Once their identity is verified, we base their information off of reported names and addresses of known criminal aliases. That way, you know that you have the right information to base your final rental decision off of.

Why Protecting Applicant PII is Important

Why Protecting Applicant PII is Important

When it comes to the big no-nos of the industry, intentionally or accidentally releasing private information is up there. There’s nothing worse for PR than an information leak. In addition to protecting key community information, your renters’ identity and information that could potentially identify them should be kept secure.

We all know that social security numbers, banking and driver’s license information are highly sensitive PII that need to be behind lock and key, but even lesser, non-sensitive PII like your resident’s birthday or appearance could be misused in the wrong hands. Even with well intentions, not every renter wants their neighbor knowing which parking spot is theirs or if they’ve been furloughed. While releasing quasi-identifying PII is up to your discretion, keep in mind that every time you release information about a renter (as harmless as it might seem) you leave yourself open to liabilities.

When in doubt, keep your mouth shut.

When it comes to the big no-nos of the industry, intentionally or accidentally releasing private information is up there. There’s nothing worse for PR than an information leak. In addition to protecting key community information, your renters’ identity and information that could potentially identify them should be kept secure.

We all know that social security numbers, banking and driver’s license information are highly sensitive PII that need to be behind lock and key, but even lesser, non-sensitive PII like your resident’s birthday or appearance could be misused in the wrong hands. Even with well intentions, not every renter wants their neighbor knowing which parking spot is theirs or if they’ve been furloughed. While releasing quasi-identifying PII is up to your discretion, keep in mind that every time you release information about a renter (as harmless as it might seem) you leave yourself open to liabilities.

When in doubt, keep your mouth shut.

Avoiding PII Security Risks During the Holidays

If you’re working from home (with sensitive resident information) during the holidays, you’ll need to be especially wary of wandering eyes and sticky-fingered children. In both the office and home office, you should be especially sensitive towards these three documents and paperwork:

  1. All Applicant Credit Reports
  2. All Applications and Resident Files
  3. Rent Checks and Contact Information

All records must be stored securely within a lockable filing cabinet, behind a locked door. If it’s stored electronically, then you’ll want to take time out to ensure your computer’s security features are updated and passwords are secure.

Under the Code of Federal Regulations 682.3, “any person who maintains or otherwise possesses consumer information for a business purpose must properly dispose of such information by taking reasonable measures to protect against unauthorized access to or use of the information in connection with its disposal”. If you’ve made your rental decision, the Federal Trade Administration requires you to burn, pulverize, or shred paper reports and properly destroy electronic credit report.

Avoiding PII Security Risks During the Holidays

If you’re working from home (with sensitive resident information) during the holidays, you’ll need to be especially wary of wandering eyes and sticky-fingered children. In both the office and home office, you should be especially sensitive towards these three documents and paperwork:

    1. All Applicant Credit Reports
    2. All Applications and Resident Files
    3. Rent Checks and Contact Information

All records must be stored securely within a lockable filing cabinet, behind a locked door. If it’s stored electronically, then you’ll want to take time out to ensure your computer’s security features are updated and passwords are secure.

Under the Code of Federal Regulations 682.3, “any person who maintains or otherwise possesses consumer information for a business purpose must properly dispose of such information by taking reasonable measures to protect against unauthorized access to or use of the information in connection with its disposal”. If you’ve made your rental decision, the Federal Trade Administration requires you to burn, pulverize, or shred paper reports and properly destroy electronic credit report.

While we’re sure you’re upholding the best security practices when it comes to your applicants’ and residents’ PII, make sure you extend that security sensitivity towards yourself this holiday season. While you’re online shopping, take some time to do some preventative measures to help you survive the holidays and avoid identity theft.

Any Leave them in the comments below!

While we’re sure you’re upholding the best security practices when it comes to your applicants’ and residents’ PII, make sure you extend that security sensitivity towards yourself this holiday season. While you’re online shopping, take some time to do some preventative measures to help you survive the holidays and avoid identity theft.

Any Leave them in the comments below!

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Becky Bower is the Content Strategist here at the CIC Blog. She holds a degree in English, with a focus in creative writing, from CSU Channel Islands. Her biggest weakness is cake and favorite superhero is Batman.

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