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How Do You Handle Consumer Information?

The recent article in Automotive News this week about a finance manager stealing consumer information hit home to us here at Carloan.com.  We process sensitive consumer information every day and go to great lengths to protect it.  So when we read the article we thought we would pass along some tips and share some best practices from our business:

1) Have a policy to manage the risk of sensitive consumer information and enforce it.  Define what is sensitive and create methods to safeguard the information. Design an audit process and conduct periodic checks.

2) Consumer information is both sensitive and timely.  When you're finished with it, destroy it.

3) Treat your customer's information as if it was your own.  Would you like your SSN laying around on a desk or open on a computer screen?  Secure it.

4) It's the 21st century.  Don't print sensitive information.  If you absolutely must print, ensure you have secure document storage and ample shredding capability.

5) Utilize trusted and reputable vendors to mitigate the risk that the leak of the information presents.  If you're not comfortable keeping this information on site then find others who can do it for you.

6) Screen potential employees.  Audit your new hire process to ensure you're conducting the appropriate background check on those who have access to sensitive consumer information.

7) Avoid email and watch the fax.  Never email sensitive consumer information.  Email is one of the most insecure methods of delivery.  If you have to use it, make sure you obfuscate vulnerable content.  Turn your fax machines off when unattended.

8) Avoid making a hard credit inquiry without consumer permission.  You have an ethical responsibility to inform consumers when impacting their credit history.  As you are aware, hard credit inquiries are traceable back to your business.  Audit your business practices to ensure you're customer friendly.

We hope these tips help with stimulating your interest about your store's process.  Our intent was to raise awareness of these issues.  As with many of the critical areas of your business, always consult legal counsel when deciding your process for keeping sensitive information secure and private.

Tom Feary is the General Manager for Interactive Financial Marketing Group. His dream car is a '67 Lincoln Continental convertible. He likes BBQ, a good breakfast, and watching the Internet change the way we live. You can reach Tom at tfearyATinteractivefmg.com or directly at 804-521-8551.

 

 

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