One of the NICA and Inventory Industry Code of Conduct items states, “Do not disclose information about customers (i.e., data, photos, reports, etc.), in verbal or written form.” This code regarding client confidentiality was displayed very well recently by a member of the National Inventory Certification Association.
Some associations and certifying organizations require proof of client work before their members can receive certification. Due to the confidentiality expected in our industry, we do not (and never will) ask for copies of inventory documents. These are proprietary between the inventory service professional and their clients.
So, how do you handle a request from a potential clients to see a completed inventory when you promise that you won’t share this information with others? Do you show it to them anyway, especially when it could be a great opportunity to add a new person to your list of clients?
Declining the opportunity
A NICA member was asked by a potential client (“Mr. X”) for a copy of a completed home inventory that he could review. They offered to show Mr. X a sample of what the finished product would include, explaining the confidentiality expectations of our industry. He continued to request that he see a “real” one that was prepared for a client.
When our member further stated that there is identifying information in the written report and the photos, Mr. X suggested to just have that specific information be removed or blacked out. By doing this, the member would still be sharing confidential information and again explained that they could not abide by his wishes (how do you black out any possible identifying information in photos?).
This NICA member acted properly. Though it would have been a very lucrative job, this member declined the opportunity due to their professionalism and adherence to the Code of Ethics.