Keep it Secret, Keep it Safe: How to Guard Your Tenant Files

by Chris on November 8, 2010

Tenant screening documents, particularly a rental application and tenant credit report, contain sensitive information about an applicant’s identity.  Placed in the wrong hands, this information can be used to cause significant harm through identity theft and other credit card and banking scams. 

A landlord has a duty to protect the privacy of applicants by blocking access to this personal data. Here are a few things a landlord can do to avoid exposing an applicant to fraud:

Locate file cabinets in a private area, away from where new applicants will be interviewed, or where there is easy access.

Lock file cabinets.  Consider a coded lock.  If not, keep keys in a different room than the cabinet, and do not label the key. Limit the number of duplicate keys.

It is best to store the file cabinets in an area that also can be locked, like a closet or dedicated storage room.

Do not store old files in a shared or commonly accessible storage area.

Review privacy procedures with employees, vendors or family members who may have unlimited access to your home or office.

Don’t make copies of documents unless necessary, for instance, if going to court.  Keep track of how many copies were made.

Avoid carrying files with you outside of the office.  Do not leave a file in plain view in your car.

This post is provided by Tenant Verification Service, Inc., helping landlords reduce the risks of renting with fraud prevention tools that include Tenant Screening, Tenant Background Checks, (U.S. and Canada), as well as Criminal Background Checks, and Eviction Reports (U.S. only).

Click Here to Receive Landlord Credit Reports. 

Disclaimer: The information provided in this post in not intended to be construed as legal advice, nor should it be considered a substitute for obtaining individual legal counsel or consulting your local, state, federal or provincial tenancy laws.

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