We have all heard the recent stories about how devastating a data breach can be and how challenging it is to repair your credit rating and recover from identity theft or a credit breach.

With that in mind, be sure to ask the correct questions about data security plans when you hire a financial professional or advisor.

All organizations dealing with documents (Editor's note: this includes mortgage originators, even brokers) that contain private or personal data are required to have a WISP (Written information Security Protocol) policy. You need to protect yourself and your valuable information.

Here are just a few things to consider:

•       Is internal email communication encrypted?

•       Is there an encryption service for sending emailed documents?

•       Is there a policy around securing faxed documents when they arrive?

•       If you email documents, are you advised to password protect?

•       When emailing documents will they be stored electronically or as paper?

•       How are laptops and desktops secured?

•       How frequently are users required to change passwords on all devices?

•       Are fax machines shut down at night?

•       Is there a locked desk policy?

•       How is paper managed?

•       Are there locked shredding bins?

•       Do they allow files out of the office?

•       Do they keep a lock box in their vehicle if transporting documents?

There are various ways a well-intended professional can accidently mismanage electronic or paper data and accidentally expose your information. Everyone should seek out companies with strong protocols, policies and procedures that surround data security, as well as clear penalties for data breaches. You take your privacy, identity and credit rating seriously so should the companies you work with!