Handling sensitive nonpublic information can be a daily occurrence for a mobile notary. Don’t let your daily tasks get routine. The safeguarding of NPI is one of your most important responsibilities as a mobile notary. Here are four ways a mobile notary can protect nonpublic information.
1. Secure Physical Access to Information
As a mobile notary, you are out of the office, often in situations where there are not locked filing cabinets or safes readily available. Storing information in your vehicle is generally a bad idea but a trunk or another locked part of your vehicle is much better than leaving documents or electronic devices sitting in plain view on the backseat of your vehicle. Plan your day so you are not leaving important information in less secured areas for long periods of time.
Be sure that your laptop bag, tote, or briefcase does not have any branding about your profession as a mobile notary stitched on the bag. Carry a plain, unbranded bag. There are times to brand yourself and other times you do not want to draw attention to yourself and the information you may be carrying.
Make sure all confidential information, including your notary journal, are stored in a locked filing cabinet, desk, or safe when you are at home or in the office. Consider contracting a monitored alarm system for your home or business. Locks and alarms are proven measures in preventing theft.
2. Secure Electronic Access to Information
Using electronics, software programs, and apps are a must for running an effective business in today’s world. Here are some ways to keep your electronic devices protected:
- All computers, tablets, and smartphones must be password protected.
- Make sure your passwords are strong and follow best practices.
- Protect your passwords, do not write them down and leave them laying on your desk. If you need to write them down use an encryption and keep them locked with your other important papers.
- Keep your operating system and all programs updated – this will reduce the risk of cyber attack from viruses and worms.
- Follow Email best practices and be on the lookout for spam and phishing.
- Stay off public WiFi. Instead, use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) or use your cell phone to launch a mobile hotspot.
- Use an app that can locate all of your devices.
- Do not share use of your computer or the electronic devices you use for your notary business with your family.
3. Maintain Responsibility
“Loose Lips Might Sink Ships” was propaganda during WWII. The message was that sharing too much information can be detrimental. As a mobile notary, a good rule of thumb is to treat all of the information you are responsible for as NPI. The more careful you are with the information you share the less chance there is of making a mistake and sharing information that another party does not need to know.
Make sure you are properly and promptly sending signed documents through an authorized carrier and requiring a signature receipt. Return or destroy any documents that are not part of the signing. Do not leave documents unattended before, during, or after a signing that may find the eyes of another party.
You are responsible for the security of this information. If it is ever compromised, alert the party immediately. Immediate notification is your responsibility and can help the party handle the situation and limit damage. The protection of sensitive information by a notary is so important that you may be held liable for any damages caused from information not taken care of.
4. Have a set of policies and procedures regarding NPI
Policies and procedures are not just for large companies. Make sure you have your own policies in place. Determine how you are going to receive information, protect information once it is in your care, and how you are going to return or destroy information. Make sure your policy meets all of the guidelines legally required. Here is a great checklist from NationalNortary.org that you should be sure to include in your policy for handling NPI. Once you have your policy stick to it.
Many of the ideas in this blog were taken from Information Stewardship & Security Awareness Training Notary Public Edition GLBA Training Module