Data security and real estate

This week and last week I took some continuing education classes for real estate. The way it works is if I get continuing education I get to keep my licenses. 🙂

This year’s classes included a lot of information about data security and privacy. The focus is on client data.

I am in the process of putting together a privacy and security policy for Boardman Realty.

We do not collect credit card numbers, social security numbers, bank account numbers, or drivers license numbers. We do collect names, addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses.

I occasionally have to accept a paper check, instead of the safer electronic deposit through Trust Funds. All paper checks are deposited immediately and then destroyed.

In the old days, like 5 years ago, it was routine to get paper checks, copy them and save them with the file. These days I have buyers get their own copy and send it to their own lender.

Most of our client files are electronic only. The State of Minnesota requires us to retain client files. Those records are kept in a secure location and they don’t contain any private information. Client contact information is retained but never shared with third parties.

I know real estate agents who have paper files that they keep in their cars and trunks. They call it a mobile office.  It isn’t unusual for real estate agents to keep client files forever.

Old files might have social security numbers in them and copies of old checks. There was a time when there was a blank for social security numbers on buyer contracts and printed on closing settlement statements.

If you are working with a real estate agent ask what information is being gathered and what is being kept and for how long.

Security is important and I take it very seriously and I don’t want to be responsible for any information that I am not required to collect.

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