Tenantbackgroundsearch.com Issues Reminder to Landlords to Safeguard Tenants’ Identity Info

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Landlords are required by federal law to safeguard the personal information of their tenants. Failure to do so can result in significant fines.

TenantBackgroundSearch.com, an internet firm specializing in tenant qualifying services for landlords, has issued a reminder to all landlords that, as members of the business community, whether corporate or sole proprietors, they are bound by federal law to safeguard personal and sensitive information of their tenants. This includes name, social security number, date of birth, official state or government issued driver's license or identification number, alien registration number, government passport number, employer or taxpayer identification number.

Jeff LeVan of TenantBackgroundSearch.com urges all landlords to develop a formal plan to ensure they are in compliance with the law. “Paper records should be locked up securely with limited access and staff training and reminders to reinforce good security practices,” says LeVan. “Another suggestion is to keep names, social security numbers and financial numbers separately so if the documents are compromised, there is less chance of the person’s identity being matched with specific account numbers.”

Regarding electronic records, LeVan says caution should be taken especially for laptop computers, which can be stolen more easily, especially if the person is traveling. Access to such electronic records in an office setting should be controlled as well. Reminders can be issued periodically to all employees about what is legal and what is illegal to share with others, especially over the phone in the case of callers possibly posing as someone else for the purpose of gaining such data.

Additionally, LeVan says, many states have even more specific laws regarding business requirements to safeguard client data. Usually, the state’s Attorney General’s office is the best source of guidance.

“For example, in Texas,” says LeVan, “the Identity Theft Enforcement Act states that businesses that fail to maintain security of identity information can face fines up to $50,000 per violation. This includes improperly keeping or disposing of old records as well as recent ones, even if the information is expired.” Texas also has a state requirement to dispose of such materials properly or face fines of $500 per record if found guilty.

“The business world, especially that of landlords, is becoming increasingly complex, “ says LeVan. “More emphasis is being placed on the landlord to be a watchdog and security guard at the same time. It takes a lot of focus to be always operating properly. Not only do landlords have to meet federal laws like the Patriot Act, but also they must know state and local laws as well.” (The Patriot Act requires all business to conduct background checks to ensure they are not doing business with persons forbidden to conduct business in the United States.) “It’s time consuming to do it, and costly if you’re found not doing it,” says LeVan.

TenantBackgroundSearch.com is an internet business that performs comprehensive background checks on potential renters to assist landlords in meeting legal requirements as well ensuring accurate financial reports. Report topics include credit, national criminal database, sexual offender database, Patriot Act search, bankruptcy, foreclosures, medical collections, employment summary, known aliases, past addresses and eviction history. Located in Dallas, the firm has a global clientele.

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Jeff LeVan
Tenant Background Search
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