Monday, September 19, 2011

You Need Continuing Education

The SAFE Act created a requirement that all mortgage loan originators take at least 8hours of continuing education each year in order to get approval of your license renewal. If you were licensed in 2009 or 2010, you must comply with the continuing education requirement. If you took your pre-licensing education in 2011 and were licensed in 2011, you do not need to take any continuing education this year. If you took your pre-licensing education in 2009 or 2010 and your licensed was approved in 2011 or is still pending, you need to check with your state regulatory agency to find out if it is requiring loan originators to take continuing education.

If you are licensed in one (1) state, the requirement is that you take 3 hours of federal law and regulations, 2 hours of ethics, 2 hours of training related to lending standards for the nontraditional mortgage product market, and 1 hour of unspecified mortgage training (it's your choice of topic). If you took continuing education last year, you need to take different classes this year. Some states require a certain number of hours of state-specific education instead of the 1 hour hour of unspecified mortgage training. Therefore, if you are licensed is more than one (1) state, you may need to take more than eight (8) hours of continuing education.

The SAFE Act requirement is that you must take your continuing education hours by December 31, 2011. However, certain states require that you take continuing education before you can renew your license. Other states let you submit your renewal license applications, starting November 1, 2011, but they will not approve your renewals before you submit your continuing education hours through the NMLS. You need to check the rules for each state in which you are licensed to ensure that you are taking the correct number and types of continuing education courses so your licenses will be renewed.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

What Do Mortgage Companies Need to Do About Computer Security?

All mortgage companies obtain very personal information from their customers that are stored on their computer systems. Computer security is an ongoing problem for your company because of the sensitive nature of the information that you store on your computers. You need to be proactive about your systems’ shortcomings and create a plan to upgrade your security. You must also have procedures in place to deal with a potential breach of security.

First, review the level of computer security that your system has. Most smaller mortgage companies do not have an IT department so they should hire an outside firm who has expertise in security breach problems. Have a survey of what information is stored, how it is stored, who has access to the information, and how your customers can use the internet to apply for a mortgage. An expert will point out where your systems are deficient, where you need to institute new policies for your employees, and where you may need to change or upgrade your software. Are your employees using smart phones or tablets that store private customer information? How easy is it for someone who finds a lost employee smart phone, tablet, or laptop to log in and access your customers’ information?

Do your personnel policies discuss how employees are to treat computer security issues? Are these policies rigorously enforced? Does your training emphasize the need to protect customer data?

Finally, you must review your computer security periodically. Hackers are always devising new ways to get into systems. You are obligated by law to safeguard your customers’ data. You could be sued by your customers whose financial information is now on the internet for the world to see. Therefore, your job of keeping their information safe never ends.