Tips for Protecting Your Self-Storage Customers’ Information
By Amy Campbell
The recent security breach at Target is an eye-opener for every business that collects any kind of personal information from its customers. Much like the retail giant, self-storage operators regularly run credit card information and some even collect checks. But it goes deeper than that. Operators also have access to full names, driver’s licenses, phone numbers, and e-mail and home addresses. Some even collect social security numbers. Combined, it’s an attractive package for identity thieves. Self-storage operators need to do everything they can to ensure their tenants’ information is locked down tight.
This starts with the rental agreement or, more pointedly, how you store your tenants’ personal information. It goes without saying that paper copies of all rental agreements should be under lock and key. This prevents just anyone from grabbing them and the info they provide. Even better, don’t let tenants know where rental agreements are kept.
Self-storage operators rely heavily on computers to do just about everything, which means yours is a treasure trove of information. If you don’t already have one, add a security password to your computer system. That way, if you’re away from the computer, no one can access it. This is a critical step to cyber protection, according to an article on Entreprenuer.com.
The article also advises not using the same password over and over. Instead, change it up often and make passwords strong with a combination of upper and lowercase numbers and letters. And never write it down on piece of paper and leave it anywhere near the computer. What’s the purpose of a password if it’s easily accessible to anyone? This goes for any mobile device that can access company records as well.
It’s not just your computer, either. You should also be concerned about your printers and anything on paper. If possible, store your printer far from prying eyes and hands at the front desk, and be sure to shred everything that has any kind of personal information if you no longer need it. For tips on what to do with tenant files once they vacate, check out this ISS article by Jeff Greenberger.
Really, operators should give as much attention to the security of their tenants’ private information as they do the physical property. Most thieves who break into a facility will only target a few of your units, but a hacker can endanger everyone who rents with you. Here’s a great website with links on preventing computer crimes from happening at your facility. It includes info on e-mail scams, computer viruses, identity theft, cyber crime and more.
How do you keep your tenants’ personal information safe? Share your facility’s practices by posting a comment below or on this Self-Storage Talk thread.
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