Data Privacy and Security Issues for Mortgage Industry Professionals in the Temporary Work at Home Situation

March 24, 2020

The mortgage lending industry has faced severe financial threats and incurred significant financial harm due to data security and data privacy breaches.  These breaches have resulted in wire fraud, data theft and identity theft in the past few years.  The industry has previously come together and incorporated tools and policies to combat the issue, however the government’s stay at home orders are now taking many into uncharted waters and raising risk concerns.

Those professionals now sheltered in place at home, who include mortgage industry processors, underwriters and closers, as well as settlement professionals, including attorneys, title agents and escrow officers, need to adopt measures to protect banks and consumers from harm.

Just as they would in their offices, these important workers who have daily access to consumer personal and financial data, and are transmitting information, files and even wire instructions via email, must maintain strict policies to avoid fraud.  This means to only use company email addresses when conducting business, turning off home computers when not working, destroying hard copies of files instead of simply throwing them in the trash (via shredder or simply tearing them up), avoiding talk about consumer personal information within earshot of family or friends who may be about, and not leaving laptops and hard files in their vehicles when traveling or simply sitting in the driveway.

In addition to these simply personal practices, sheltered at home workers must be even more diligent regarding wire fraud.  Whenever there is a breakdown or interruption in a well conceived and executed workflow, there is the possibility for exploitation by criminals.  With so many conducting work at home it is only natural to let one’s guard down a bit, to skip strict compliance and operational policy steps, and even perhaps in an early morning or late evening state of tiredness, miss a phishing communication that can open the door to financial disaster.

As we all learn to adjust to the new normal when it comes to the mortgage industry, let us not forget to focus on the potential harm that data privacy and security breaches can cause to everyone.


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