In my last post I discussed the fair housing compliance issues associated with paper applications. In this post we will look at applicant personal data security dangers with paper rental applications and how to keep applicant data secure.
Best practices in screening rental applicants require detailed personal information. You can check out this post to get a good explanation of why this data is important when assessing rental applicants. http://www.kimberlyhowell.com/renters-landlords/why-does-a-rental-application-require-so-much-personal-info/
According to the FBI, identity theft is the fasted growing white-collar crime in America.
Believe it or not there are still many real estate agents, property managers and landlords that use paper rental application.
There are 2 variations of these
1) An actual paper application that is handed out at the location or available on line and then downloaded to be completed. The completed application is then hand-delivered, emailed or even faxed back to the office.
2) An online fillable pdf.
Both present serious security problems as they are ultimately printed out to be viewed and distributed.
A paper application contains the applicant’s name, date of birth, current address and social security number. I have also seen credit card information on an application
This is everything an identity thief needs to wreak havoc with an individual’s ID.
Paper applications are not easy to keep secure and away from prying eyes. I have seen them laying out in the open at many offices. These offices typically have a steady stream of people regularly visiting them. There are also cleaning and maintenance people that could access them, especially when the offices are closed and no one else is around.
Fillable, on-line pdfs present an additional security problem when there are multiple applicants. Many times the co-applicants are required to complete the same application as the primary applicant on the same form. The primary applicant will complete his/hers then the co-applicant will continue with the same application. This allows the co-applicant to see all of the primary applicant’s personal information. This is a cause for concern when the applicants don’t know each other all that well.
The solution to resolving these issues associated personal data security dangers with paper rental applications is to use a secure on-line application program.
Make sure it has the following features-
– Individual applications (that can then be combined for review) for each applicant.
– The ability to capture an SSN for screening purposes, but not make it visible to anyone after it is entered.
– Access by permission only. If more than one person needs to review the application, each needs to have their own log on credentials.
Paper applications are obsolete and provide a tempting target for identity thieves. Many of the personal data security dangers with paper rental applications can be greatly reduced by using a reputable on-line rental application and background screening service provider.