In this advancing technological age, developers across the country are innovating greater, faster methods of providing information. For the property management industry, this translates into the creation of a vast network of information on potential applicants, equipped with the delivery of increasing speeds and accuracy. However, the difficulty with this specific type of data is that it largely includes regulated content that is scrutinized by governing entities (to ensure the protection of the consumer’s identities and rights).
The most recent of scandals is the FTC suit against Filiquarian Publishing, LLC and Choice Level, LLC. providing an app on mobile devices which provided criminal background information, their app did not meet with FCRA compliant protocols and offered data on consumers without their consent. While speed and convenience is desirable when pre-screening applicants, knowing that the companies providing your data are doing so in a manner that is legally allowed is an absolute must. The pitfalls of not doing so may result in liabilities to the end user regarding decisions made on their applicants.
Specifically in the multifamily industry the types of streamlined application processes that should be questioned before trusting them with an organization’s portfolios include: E-signature use with questions about tracking methods to verify applicants, statewide or national forms, data accuracy and any filtering or cross-referencing methods used, and website security on mobile devices. All of these products specifically aid with the consumer demand, handling the application process quickly while assisting managers in providing a full bodied background check coupled with a speedy, well-documented leasing procedure.
Keep an eye out in the industry for an increase in ‘all-in-one’ type packages that promise the best and most secure methods. These are very useful and can expedite processes while reducing man power onsite. Still, before adopting such technology, there are specific questions that should be asked. Inquire about methodologies for tracking data transfers (should applicants ever dispute that they agreed to their information being accessed). Then verify where the data is coming from, as well as how often it is updated and filtered for accuracy (to minimize false positives). With procedures that reduce human involvement in the decision making process, false positives can be a nightmare. So, ask providers about the frequency of their forms being managed to comply with any new legislative requirements, and whether they use legal review with each update.
The goal of the resident screening industry is to support those in the multi-family sector while respecting the consumer’s rights. A data provider who focuses too much on one or the other may ultimately put themselves and their users at risk.
For more information about data accuracy and new technologies, please visit www.cicreports.com or call 888.316.4242.
CIC is a nationwide leader in resident screening with over 27 years of experience in the multi-family housing industry.