April 22, 2024

Needham, MA--Tomes have been written about how, when and why loan officers, real estate agents and title agents should endeavor to protect their customers’ nonpublic personal information (NPI). These requirements are encoded in law and are part of the code of ethics for each of these disciplines.

But how do you prevent your customers from inadvertently passing sensitive information across channels that may be open to scam artists who know well how to make use of this data for profit?

A recent post by a loan officer highlighted this problem, noting that he had determined one of the most critical aspects of his job was developing a variety of resources to teach clients about the dangers of emailing and texting NPI.

His point was well taken. Management tends to focus on protecting the NPI in its possession and takes the time to put policies in place and teach employees how to handle NPI judiciously. But going the extra mile means teaching the clients the role they play in protecting that data as well.

Create safe channels

The first line of defense, of course, is to create safe channels for customers to send information to the loan officer, real estate agent or title company. Password protected portals with multi-factor authentication (MFA) ensure data will not be susceptible to outside access.

Letting the customer input information directly also prevents data errors – although we all know customers themselves are fallible when inputting data and information will need to be verified.


Per the loan officer’s point above, educating customers about the importance of protecting their own NPI must become a critical function of all professionals who engage with the customer.

One of the challenges of providing this information to the customer is the hazard of information overload. Homebuyers and sellers are trying to absorb a tremendous amount of additional information, especially if it is their first buying and borrowing experience.

One thing that may help get your NPI warnings successfully through the noise is to carefully craft information for the client in modes that are most digestible and memorable. In the book Brain Rules by John Medina, rule #10 is "vision trumps all other senses." He suggests that a picture increases retention from 10% to 65%, so including infographics in your written communications is key.

Short video presentations provide another more visual method of communicating important concepts about protecting NPI.

Repeat, repeat, repeat

Helping your clients protect their NPI is never a one-and-done effort. While ways to protect NPI should be discussed at the outset of the relationship, as you draw closer to the consummation of the transaction, these warnings become increasingly imperative.

Everyone in the transaction gets a little harried as all of the last-minute details get wrapped up and it is often at this time that consumers start making mistakes in their rush to get to the closing table, so make sure your getting the client’s attention and help them think through how they are sharing information as you approach the closing.

At Kriss Law/Atlantic Closing & Escrow, we are vigilant in working closely with your clients to ensure their personal information is protected at every step of the process. Contact us today to learn more about our efforts to educate your clients and to discover more about our services and expertise.

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