When you study for your CeMAP exam and become a mortgage advisor, data protection is an area mortgage advisors have to concern themselves with.

This week, the Financial Services Authority (FSA) gave its first ever fine for poor data protection services to a firm called Merchant Securities Group.  The poor standards were identified in an inspection in September 2007.  The original fine was for £110,000 but as the firm co-operated fully and settled quickly, that fine was reduced by 30 per cent to £77,000.

The fine was given for poor security controls and not protecting customer’s personal details sufficiently, although no evidence of a breach was found.

A spokesperson for the FSA said:

“It is unacceptable that despite increased awareness of data security issues, a firm should be so careless about its systems for protecting customers’ personal details. People have a right to expect their details to be kept secure and firms should be committed to treating their customers fairly in all aspects of their business.  We will not wait until information has been lost or stolen before taking action against a firm. The level of the fine for a firm of this size should serve as a warning to others to take data security seriously.”

As a CeMAP qualified mortgage advisor, the advisor is given many personal details from their customers and being aware of data protection issues is part of the CeMAP qualification syllabus.