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Protecting your confidential information

Posted on December 16, 2015 by admin

Protecting your business’s confidential information is a high priority for employers, especially when employees leave.

Confidential information such as client lists, pricing information, market research data, sales and marketing plans are all considered to be confidential in nature and are at a greater risk of exposure especially when employees leave to take on a role with a competitor.

There are some ways to minimise risks and protect your confidential information, including the following:

Identify and label your trade secrets
Information that is not accessible to the general public and is valuable to the employer is considered confidential information. The information may provide the employer with a competitive advantage and is not easily accessible by others. If the information is viable from other legitimate sources or is used by employees in their usual work routine it may not be considered confidential.

When assessing your business be realistic and avoid overreaching every aspect of your business as a trade secret. After identifying confidential information and trade secrets, you may consider labelling documents or electronic information as “confidential” so employees are aware of what is considered confidential.

Limit access
Implementing internal controls is one way to restrict access to only the employees who need the information to complete their tasks. For example, physical documents containing confidential information may be stored in locked file cabinets and for electronic data, passwords should only be given to appropriate staff. When an employee departs your business, it is important to collect documents and valuables provided such as smartphones and laptops to protect information from being leaked.

Consider a confidentiality policy
To ensure employees are aware of their expectations in regards to confidential information, you may consider adding a confidential policy to the employee’s handbook. The policy should clearly identify what you consider to be confidential information in your business and when employees are allowed to access this information. The policy should coincide with the employee contract which should include a provision to prohibit use or disclosure of the business’s confidential information and trade secrets.

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Avoiding mortgage default

Posted on August 26, 2020 by admin

As individuals struggle with cash flow through the coronavirus, the Australian Bankers Association records that repayments on almost 500,000 mortgages have been deferred for six months. While repayments can be delayed, they cannot be avoided altogether.

Lenders can send you a default notice the day your repayment is overdue. However, they could also wait until your repayment is overdue by 90 or more days. When you receive a default notice, you are given 30 days to repay the amounts you have missed in addition to the regular repayment on your loan. Individuals who are struggling with their home loan repayments can avoid mortgage default by considering the following.

Contact your lender
Lenders are generally willing to work with you through financial hardship. Don’t be afraid to contact your lender to discuss your situation and find out what options are available for you. Lenders are often willing to negotiate short-term variations to repayment schedules that both parties can agree to. However, make sure that you do not agree to unrealistic repayment conditions that cannot be met.

Many Australian banks are offering a six-month deferral on mortgage repayments (including interest) for customers who are experiencing financial hardship as a result of COVID-19. If this is you, contact your bank to see if this is an option.

Apply for a hardship variation
Mortgage holders may be able to change the terms of their loan or temporarily pause or reduce their repayments under a hardship variation. A hardship variation can still be requested after you receive a mortgage default. To apply for one, contact your lender’s “hardship officer” and tell them that you wish to change your loan repayments due to financial hardship. This will usually require you to explain why you are struggling to make payments and to estimate how long your financial problems will continue to determine how much you can afford to repay.

After submitting a hardship variation request, your lender must contact you within 21 days with the outcome of your request. They may ask you for more details regarding your request; in this case, they must contact you again within 21 days from when you provide the additional information.

Consider selling your home
Selling your home is a tough decision, but in some cases this may be the better option if your circumstances are unlikely to improve. If you get to the point where your lender takes possession of your home and sells it, it’s likely that you won’t make as much as if you sold it yourself. When you sell your house on your own terms, chances are you will get a better price and avoid having to pay the legal fees passed on by your lender. Inform your lender if you decide to sell your home; they may ask for proof, such as a copy of the contract with your real estate agent or property advertisements.

Renting out your home until you can afford to make repayments again may also be an option if you are able to live somewhere else during this period.

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