If businesses have learned anything from Equifax, it’s that no one is safe from cybercrime and data breaches. If you’re a landlord, you hold the keys to a lot more than your tenants’ apartments; you store their bank account numbers, background checks, driver’s license numbers, and social security information.
That’s a lot of important data to protect! Since the world is full of opportunistic criminals who would love to take your tenants’ personal information off your hands, use these nine ideas to help secure this private and important data—physically and digitally.
- Install Smart Locks and Smart Doorbells
One of the best ways to keep people out of your office—or wherever you house important tenant information—is installing smart locks and smart doorbells. If someone approaches your door and you have a smart doorbell, you’ll get an alert to your smartphone. Then, you can listen in, talk through the two-way radio, or call the police. The same goes for smart locks. If anyone tries to tamper with your door, you’ll get an alert instantly. That way, you can keep track of people snooping around, hand off footage to the police, and stop the theft altogether.
- Set Up Security Cameras and Home Security Systems
The next step you can take in advanced security entails installing security cameras and a comprehensive home security system. Whenever possible, install indoor and outdoor security cameras that turn on with motion-sensing technology and sync with an app in your smartphone so you can call the police if something suspicious is happening. Opt for 24/7 monitoring with a security company so someone always has an eye on your office.
- Use Lock Boxes
If you’d like to accept checks the old-fashioned way, that’s completely fine. Just get a secure lockbox that only you can open. The safest option is a lockbox that’s attached through a letter slot on your door. Why? Because someone can’t use a crowbar and walk away with the whole box that houses your tenant’s money orders, checks, or other personal information.
- Buy a Safe
If you store physical records for all your tenants, buy a safe. A safe allows you to securely lock up leases, personal bank account information, security deposits, and more. You can also invest in a safety deposit box off-site for added security and additional peace of mind.
- Shred Unnecessary Files
When your tenants sign a lease, you’ll have a lot of extra information you don’t need to store forever (like background checks and credit checks). Either buy a shredder to safely dispose of this sensitive information or go to your bank; lots of financial institutions will gladly shred files for you. The less sensitive information you have on hand, the less likely it is to get stolen.
- Secure Your Wi-Fi
If someone hacks your email, they’ll be able to see all communications with your tenants. To prevent data breaches, always use a secure, private, and password-protected network when you go online. Install a VPN, establish a strong firewall, or go with a company like LandlordStation that handles the security aspect of digital communications to take the worry out of your life.
- Use Encrypted Payment Networks
If you accept monthly rent digitally, do it wisely! Either use PayPal or direct bank transfers. It’s not recommended to hang onto your tenants’ bank account and credit card numbers, so using secure networks will eliminate the threat of that information being stolen and used by cybercriminals.
- Implement Two-Step Authentication
Passwords can be flimsy and easily cracked. That’s why it’s so important to set up two-factor authentication on every account you have—especially email where your tenants’ personal information may be. Set up a safety net by electing to send code verifications to your smartphone every time you log in. While it may be a pain, it will prevent thieves from accessing your information—and that of your tenant—with ease.
- Download Lojack
If your computer is stolen and it has sensitive information on it, you’ll want to recover it ASAP. Either purchase Lojack or install Find My iPhone for Apple devices. If your computer or device is taken, you’ll be able to report it to the police and they’ll be able to track it down for you—avoiding an even bigger loss of trust and legal woes due to a tenant information hack.
Being a landlord involves a lot of responsibility; you have to provide a safe and secure place for your tenants to live and also handle their sensitive information carefully. These tips can help you so you and your tenants don’t suffer data breaches.
About the Author: Emily Long is a freelance writer based in Salt Lake City, Utah. She writes about tech, home automation, and safety. When she’s not living out of a suitcase, you can find her practicing yoga, running Utah’s best trails, or attempting to perfect her coffee brewing skills.
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