Is Your Private Tax Info Protected?

Hacked! Are We to Rely on FNMA to Keep Our Private Tax Info Protected?Even the Pentagon gets hacked!

Do Consumers really KNOW how their loan application data is being handled?

Having worked for IRS, I know it is against the law for any government employee to divulge specific (identifiable) taxpayer information without exceptional effort to get advance approval. There is no legal way for that personally identifiable taxpayer information to get into the public domain without the taxpayers specific written permission for it. Even inside IRS, we were required to protect the identification of the taxpayer in any case related situational discussions where we sought each others advice. We could talk about the case ONLY to the point where it was still impossible for the other party to know who we were talking about.

Anyone want to bet that those disclosures we are all now signing related to proof of our healthcare, or in support of loan applications are being exempted from the non disclosure protections of federal law? Or, perhaps those laws are simply being ignored like the ones protecting professional work product were.

Equifax was recently hacked and if we are to believe the reported numbers, more people than there are adults in this country had information stolen. Major banks have had their entire database of Mastercard holders hacked and data stolen. Even the Pentagon gets hacked!

Daily news media advertisers as well as email spam keep telling us we need to pay for LifeLock services or we are at risk.

On October 24, 2017, Fannie Mae announced the following:

More choice for income, employment, and asset verification = more Day 1 Certainty

Fannie Mae’s open platform for data vendor participation provides choice for customers participating in the Desktop Underwriter® (DU®) validation service. We’ve added new choices for income, employment, and asset verification. DataVerify®, Finicity, and NCS have been approved to provide verification reports.

DataVerify will provide verification of income and employment, Finicity will provide asset verification, and NCS will provide tax transcript reports.

To get started with the DU validation service or to add a vendor, review the Implementation Checklist, complete the activation process with your vendor of choice, and begin requesting vendor verification reports.

A full list of available DU validation service vendors is posted on our website, where you can also learn more about the DU validation service and how to get Day 1 Certainty.

So here we have FNMA hiring private vendors to access and handle all our most important private tax data. Transcripts are as protected as the actual returns are. And we are supposed to rely on them to keep it confidential and protected?

So, how about when they use off shore foreign ‘data coordinators’ or off shore servers for cheaper ‘cloud’ storage. Still safe?

Try typing your own name and city into Google and see how much turns up… not always accurate, but more than enough to be problematic when someone wants to steal your ID… or all your assets.

Personally I don’t mind if a former Finance Minister of a deposed Nigerian dictator wants to share fifteen billion (U.S.) with me if I only send them my account information. I can use the extra money with the Holidays coming up.

But I’d like to still have the option of saying no.

The “Leveraged Big Data” advocates will swear that consumers “demand” faster processing time, just like they demand faster appraisals, but I bet they can’t provide 100 names of those same ‘demanding’ consumers that don’t work in the banking or lending industry.

Slow down Banking advisors! Just because a thing CAN be done more easily on a computer, & faster, does not mean that it should be. Don’t you recall the days before taxpayer insured or guaranteed loans when you used to at least pretend to be cautious, responsible stewards?

Let’s put the rational and orderly market aspect back in our definition of FMV.

Not for myself mind you. I’ll be cruising the world’s oceans on my new yacht… just as soon as that Nigerian dictators deposit posts.

Michael Ford
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Image credit flickr - B Rosen
Michael Ford

Michael Ford

Over 28 years appraising all property types and interests, in Southern California real estate. VP/Chairman National Appraiser Peer Review Committee, American Guild of Appraisers, #44OPEIU/AFL-CIO. - Michael Ford on e-AppraisersDirectory

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12 Responses

  1. Baggins Baggins says:

    Man, how to state this briefly… “I’ve never seen a nigerian email scammer by my old mailbox in the front yard.” What people should be becoming aware of now, is how data aggregators compete and data reliability is reduced with each new participator. I’ve got 10 name variants, am associated incorrectly with others, addresses incorrect, etc. I’ve got profiles I’ve never even heard of with reviews from people I don’t know. It’s all getting integrated. The smaller your footprint the better. You can remove yourself from these companies risky decision making processes by not participating. Consumer safety rules are out the window and in the trash can. We can’t expect the tech nerds to be bureaucrats or legal experts. They’re busy with the next big tech thing, best not to bother them. They’ll tell you to just go with it but you’re best advised to direct the market yourself with individual opt out actions as you are able. Online is not that appealing these days I don’t know why people still bother with most of it. The world does not have a ‘right’ to a piece of our pie. America First.

  2. Baggins Baggins says:

    This DU validation vendors list page is interesting. Is it just me or does the asset valuation reports tab contain some hot leads for reo? I’m seeing a few familiar names in there. Marketing in this business is so easy, these sorts of leads lists pop up in the most unlikely places.

  3. Avatar Bill Johnson says:

    Surly those AMCs that outsource to 3rd world countries the review of the appraisal are making all necessary arrangements to protect the appraisal data. Just assume the bad guys know your choice of your flooring, and preferred toilet paper color.

    • Baggins Baggins says:

      And don’t ever run late on your bill, otherwise you’ll be an easy target. If the Ocwen story is a reasonable illustration of how the mechanisms of consumer enforcement work in government, you can rest assured that after only another 10 million people are effected, someone, somewhere, will do something about it.

  4. Avatar Pete says:

    Just one of the many BIG risks of BIG data!

  5. Avatar Jeanie says:

    Here are 101 reasons not to trust Fannie Mae…

    101 Fannie Mae Consumer Reviews and Complaints

    This review/complaint by a veteran left me feeling sad and angry:

    “I am a disabled veteran and was in need of a home with certain accommodating amenities due to my disabilities. I had put in bids on a home for almost six months, being turned down many times, even basically laughed at. After about four months, the price finally dropped into my price range, the range that Fannie Mae said it would never see. I put in a bid and got a response saying multiple bidders, place your final bid. This is a game where Fannie wants to steal your money. So I put my bid of $250k in and waited. After many times of me calling and pleading my situation, to which they could care less, I finally called and found out that I had been outbid. I was angry but understood. Then I found out that they passed my bid over only to sell to someone using their mortgage, for only $245k. This is one of the most grueling and painful things I have had to go through and put my family through.

    It very much saddens me that a government ran agency would rather kick its own veterans to the curb. If you are a disabled veteran or a honorably discharged veteran, run away from Fannie Mae. They will show you no respect, and in the end not give a care about you or your family. I will continue to blog and write until the veterans who put their life on the line for their country get some fairness and equality. I have read nothing but horror stories about people dealing with these Fannie Mae criminals, how they bend and break the rules and nobody cares. I am sending a copy of this to my congressman and hoping he will help all the brave veterans get a fair shot at home ownership.”

    • Baggins Baggins says:

      As an appraiser we are tasked with two main objectives; identifying the appraisal problem and then finding ways to prove credible results with valuation solutions. Bidding with anything other than straight cash is a novel idea really, the heavy hitters bring cash but based on seller type, the seller may have biased interests related to longer term loan security. The differences between a true auction cash requirement and this other thing which is currently being called an auction via mortgage financing and gse clearinghouses of various names and nature. The only way to win mortgage lending is to pay cash and steer clear of financed debt as quickly as one may be able. VA has more allowances for veterans but that guarantee program has it’s own pitfalls and has also been in the news. VA is not some mythical central deal as many portend, it’s a guarantee program where the borrower ultimately has to navigate the system just like an fnma borrower, directly through their individually selected lender outlet. It’s a certificate program for lenders, opens up the door to an additional lending outlet for certain citizen type.  Best advice is to keep shopping and keep saving.  When you’re dealing with price focus you have to be ready for the elevated competition from better qualified borrowers to cash flippers and international investors. It’s a grinder out there. This blog is focused on both assisting consumers and hopefully correcting risky lending activity, for the most part. In CO you can’t get a townhome for those figures, strike while you can, explore diverse purchasing opportunities. What any commission based worker won’t tell you, is that you might get a better deal elsewhere with a completely different company. Keep shopping until you get there, keep saving to increase your competitive position when actually engaging for the buy. Cheers.

    • Jeanie, Im really sorry to hear about the bad treatment you received. From a fellow Vet, Thank you for your sacrifices.

      Something you may want to look into if you have not already is the Special Adaptive Housing for Veterans. Its directly through VA (or at least appraisal is-staff appraisers, not the normal VA panelists). If you have not already done so, look into the SAH Program.

      Its been about 7 or 8 years since I studied it and frankly I’ve forgotten most of the details. Best of luck to you!

    • Avatar Bill Johnson says:

      As an appraiser who completes 10 to 15 VA assignments a month, unfortunately Jeanie you can’t prevent other parties from putting in unrealistic bids to buy a property.  Although your bid was $250,000, and perhaps the winning bid was $250,000+, perhaps the appraiser determined the market value was only $245,000. Many of people have been coached into the game of overbidding, and hope the appraiser brings the price back down to reality. As the current owners have to move somewhere, perhaps they will simply lower the purchase price instead of starting over with backup bidders. Thank you for your service.

      • Bill I dont think it was an appraisal issue. Typical REO. Highest and best bid. For HUD a lower owner occupancy intended buyer will trump a slightly higher bid; same with disability occupant. All cash bids trump financed bids, etc. With FNMA it seems they get extra mileage out of bidders that will use FNMA financing. I think Jeanie’s deal was more along those lines than a perceived low appraisal. Your spot on though in general about bidded properties blowing past supported market values. Bid buyers need to exercise predetermined price discipline. Broker I know paid more than 10% over for luxury condo in special location. Its one of those deals where the property had a “10% makes his wife happy, premium”

  6. Avatar wontobey says:

    Great article Mike! But you should stay clear of the Nigerian dictators. The Nigerian prince I’m in contact with is more trustworthy… as trustworthy as fnma. I’ll forward his contact info lol

    • Baggins Baggins says:

      Yeah doggie! I think that person just contacted me today. There are these awesome sites where if you copy the email headers, you can find real time scam info about email scammers and similar for call spoofers. I used to play the email them back games but they just shared my email, apparently ignorant that I was playing with them. You catch them through simple means, spelling and grammar use. Spelling cat has spoken, if you spell lose vs loose wrong, if you don’t pluralize correctly or put the verbs down with incorrect standard order, you might be a nigerian spammer. But over use of commas and run on sentences does not seem to be a fair indicator, thank goodness because I’m no good at that part.

      Good day dear Beneficiary,

      Our office is using this medium to notify you about your ATM card which we believe you might have forgotten about this your outstanding compensation payment due to delay on the delivery up till now. We are here by writing to inform you that your payment file was found in our Office and we discovered that your Compensation payment of $3.7 Million united state dollars Only have not been sent to you as it was instructed by The United Nation Organization body (UN) which our bank are affiliated as oversee partner.

      1. Your Full name, ________________
      2. Your home Address, _____________
      3. Your telephone number, _________
      4. Your age/sex, __________________
      5. Your occupation, _______________

      My name is (Head of major lending outlet pushing avm’s), my home address is that persons business address, and number, the age and sex is a fair guess, and the occupation is financial tyrant. Please do ring me back at your earliest possible convenience. Yours truly in thanks you.


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Is Your Private Tax Info Protected?

by Michael Ford time to read: 3 min