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  • Even prominent companies can be vulnerable to cyberattacks and electronic thefts.
  • Understand how encryption works and make sure consumer safety isn’t just an IT issue in your brokerage.
  • Think twice before uploading something to a cloud or mobile device.

Lately, there have been a number of high-profile security breaches in the news.

Customers of prominent companies such as Target, Anthem, Home Depot and JPMorgan Chase learned that the security of their personal information, credit card data, payment histories and accounts had been compromised, and that sensitive information might have fallen into the hands of criminals or even cyberterrorists.

The media has also highlighted a lot of controversy surrounding the U.S. intelligence sector’s aggregation of information about private citizens via cellphones and other personal electronic devices.

The uproar following such revelations has made it abundantly clear that most Americans value their privacy and don’t appreciate having their personal information fall into the hands of criminals or even their own government.

With so much of the homebuying process being streamlined via electronic communication — from personal discourse among real estate agents, loan officers and clients to the mortgage application and approval process — it’s important to realize that clients need to be assured that their personal and financial information is safe from a cyberattack or electronic theft.

If your customer communication relies in part or entirety on paperless documentation, here are a few measures you should take in order to ensure that your clients feel comfortable sharing information online.

1. Use secure systems

Chances are that you might not be directly responsible for data encryption, but if you are using a program or outside service, it’s important to have a working knowledge of how encryption works. Various companies provide services to ensure data security.

2. It’s not just about IT

If you work for a company, chances are that customer data protection falls upon the shoulders of the IT department. However, privacy experts advocate for the sharing of protection protocols with company executives as well as the hands-on data specialists in the IT department so that everyone is on the same page and no confusion arises.

3. Beware the cloud

If you’re storing customer information in the cloud, you’ll want to make sure that the vendor you choose has privacy practices in place. When considering a vendor for data storage services, make sure you understand the language of the contract.

Vague or nebulous wording can translate into a lack of accountability later on down the line — and if there is a security breach, you’re going to want avenues of remediation in place.

4. Consider your mobile devices

The use of personal cellphones, tablets and even laptops add a greater layer of concern when needing to protect information. Devices that are not on your network open up a greater possibility for a security breach, and you might want to consider just how much customer information you are willing to store on such devices given their level of security.

No system is foolproof. And chances are, hackers and cyberterrorists are going to target larger companies and entities when trying to break into personal customer information.

However, for your clients’ peace of mind, make sure that you do have some security measures in place to ensure their privacy is protected while they navigate the often complex process of buying a new home.

Would you like to learn more? Visit for more information.

Chip Poli is the president, CEO and founder of the Poli Mortgage Group Inc. Chip has 20 years of experience in the real estate industry and has been consistently ranked in the top 1 percent of mortgage originators in the country.

Email Chip Poli.

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