Data breach prompts call for more mortgage protections
WASHINGTON – Feb. 18, 2019 – Hackers recently gained access to the personal data of about 54,000 mortgage borrowers on loans originating from Wells Fargo, Citigroup, Capital One, HSBC and other lenders.
The loans were being acquired by an investment firm and, during the transfer process, documents with borrowers' information were apparently exposed online with no password or other protections. Security experts aren't sure how much personal data hackers accessed, and many of the victims may not still not know they were affected.
The banks say they had no direct involvement in the data breach because they don't own or service the mortgages, but they're working to identify which customers were affected.
Hackers could use borrowers' personal information to establish new credit card accounts or apply for new mortgages, experts warn.
Rick Hill, vice president of industry technology for the Mortgage Bankers Association, told The Washington Post that new "uniform federal standards" are needed to better protect consumer data. Hill says borrower information on mortgage applications often doesn't remain with the originating lender and can be exposed by other entities.
"Banks have strict data security protocols in place to protect their own data," says Paul Brenda, senior vice president for risk and cybersecurity at the American Bankers Association. These practices should also apply to companies that acquire mortgages originated by banks and resold in the secondary market.
For those who may be a victim of a data breach, security experts advise taking advantage of free credit-monitoring services and freezing or locking credit reports.
Source: "Large Breach of Mortgage Borrowers' Data Raises New Concerns, Questions," The Washington Post (Feb. 6, 2019)
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