Federal and Ontario regulators are reportedly auditing mortgage brokerages to ensure they’re handling consumers’ information properly.
Monday’s Globe & Mail quotes Federal privacy commissioner spokesperson, Anne-Marie Hayden, as saying "There have been numerous breaches reported” in the last year or so (with respect to client information being misused).
Like bank and credit union reps, mortgage brokers are bound by federal and provincial privacy legislation, such as the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA).
According to Jim Murphy, President of CAAMP, Canada’s privacy laws are so strict that brokers have had trouble disclosing information even to police. Despite that, a handful of rogue brokers have been caught misusing personal client data.
Therefore, if you use a broker for the first time, it pays to be safe. Here are five things you can do to help ensure you’re dealing with someone reputable:
- Contact the broker’s provincial regulator to confirm the individual is licensed and in good standing. Most, but not all, provinces have mortgage broker regulators. They include:
- Do business only with brokers who have been licensed for 1-2 years or more. In provinces that don’t license brokers, ensure your broker has been at the same firm for at least 1-2 years.
- Deal with brokers who are members of CAAMP or MBABC (in BC), IMBA (in ON), AMBA (in AB), or another reputable self-regulatory organization.
- Contact the Better Business Bureau to check if your broker has had any unresolved complaints lodged against him or her.
- Deal with a well-known brokerage company that has a dedicated compliance officer. Most of the large national brokerages do, but make it a point to ask.
Millions of Canadians get mortgages every year and identity abuse occurs only in a miniscule percent of all cases. The above steps will make the odds of fraud even more remote.