How to safeguard the personal info given to your HOA or Condo by Residents’ and Owners
This week, we’ll like to know how much you’re doing to protect the personal information given to you by your residents and owners.
You probably have the personal address of your residents and owners as well as their phone numbers, and mailing address right? You might even have more information depending on the services and amenities provided by your HOA or condo. For instance, you might have a file for credit cards to handle incidentals at the clubhouse.
This is why you need to ask yourself whether you’re really doing enough to protect all these information.
The first thing you have to do is to find out if your state law makes any provision for PII (personally identifiable information). This law is applicable in so many states, and it provides that any entity that collects such information must take steps to ensure its protection. Some of them spell out what you need to do to fix things if there’s ever a breach of information.
According to Joe White, a Philadelphia property manager, that handles properties many Philadelphia HOA communities, his company keeps email addresses and phone numbers of its residents
"In my experience, HOAs typically aren't selling that information, and they're not giving out their mailing lists to others, which is good," he also stated. "We also accept ACH [essentially, electronic] payments, and people have expressed concerns about providing their banking information to the HOA. But with our clients, that information is going right to the bank, not to the HOA. That's the only thing people have expressed concern about."
According to Joe White, who owns Grow Property Management, Some Philadelphia associations might also have some additional info. "It's primarily personal email addresses, cell phone numbers, and if owners have a second home—in Philadelphia we have a lot of absentee owners —we want to know the alternative living location of people who live in another state."
"Also, when we get into collections with a condo owner, we've had their driver's license or their Social Security number in the records."
The issue of safeguarding resident’s private information is not one that a lot of boards of community associations concern themselves about.
According to Joe White "I think it's not as much on people's radar as it probably should be," he also stated that "I've seen news items from around the country about board members for, in some cases, community organizations but also for common-interest communities where their email has been hacked.
He also stated "I've also seen reports of somebody having been impersonating them in email requests for financial information or for money to be sent somewhere that wasn't a genuine request—it was somebody trying to scam the association for money.”
White also warned that "That may be a little bit of a different issue in some ways that simply protecting your residents' personal information, but it really should be an eye-opener that creative criminals will find ways to access information and learn people's identities. If we as organizations aren't thinking of the way to safeguard the information we do have, we could be opening ourselves to problems."