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Secure Methods for Sending PII

A HAPPY client was recently informed by their HUD Field Office that e-mailing a HUD 50058 form to another housing agency as part of the Port-Out process was a violation of program guidelines regarding Personally Identifiable Information (PII) and Sensitive Personally Identifiable Information1. This came as a surprise to the agency, since sending the 50058 is required under Portability and sending it via e-mail seems like an efficient and reasonable action to take. As it turns out, according to PIH 2010-15, PII can only be sent electronically if the message and any attachments are encrypted2, a process to secure e-mail that is seldom used and complicated.

So what does this mean for your agency?  

E-mail is not considered a secure method to transmit PII or Sensitive PII, while U.S. mail and the FAX are. But e-mail and other electronic means of transmitting information are more cost effective, faster and more convenient. To start, agencies should only use e-mail to send letters and forms that do not contain PII. For documents that do contain PII and Sensitive PII, HAPPY has created a secure way to transfer these forms electronically using our online AssistanceCheck® System. This innovative service enables your applicants, tenants, and property owners to find answers, submit requests, update their case file (with agency approval), send and receive documents and complete re-certifications online – on their own, at any time, all within a secure and encrypted environment that meets HUD’s requirements.

Contact our sales department to learn more about how AssistanceCheck can provide your agency with an added level of PII protection and a significant savings in time and money.

1 Office of Management and Budget, M-07-16
Personally Identifiable Information (PII)
“. . . information which can be used to distinguish or trace an individual’s identity, such as their name, social security number, biometric records, etc. alone, or when combined with other personal or identifying information which is linked or linkable to a specific individual, such as date and place of birth, mother’s maiden name, etc.”
Sensitive Personally Identifiable Information

PII that when lost, compromised or disclosed without authorization could substantially harm an individual. Examples of sensitive PII include social security or driver’s license numbers, medical records, and financial account numbers such as credit or debit card numbers.

2 USDA Office of Public and Indian Housing, Notice PIH 2010-15 (HA) Section 3, IV, 5
“…When sending sensitive PII via email, make sure both the message and any attachments are encrypted.”

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