Ethical Concerns About Texting With Clients
Various professions have rules regarding client communications. Common to most professions is the need for confidentiality. Attorneys, medical professionals, financial advisors, and other professionals must take steps to ensure confidentiality. This entails more than encryption. The medical profession in particular is regulated by HIPAA which sets forth specific rules on handling patient data.
Governing boards are trying to catch up with technology trends. This Google search reveals a number of articles on this topic.
Consider the following:
- Typical text messages are not ever really erased. Even if you delete them, they may remain on the SIM card. If your phone is lost or stolen, the SIM card may be compromised and confidential text messages may be breached.
- Is your phone password protected?
- Can you delete your phone data remotely if it is lost or stolen?
- Do you have text message previews on a locked screen disabled?
- Do you have a written policy regarding texting?
- Do you have a procedure for saving text messages to a client’s file?
- Are your text threads organized by name so you are sure you are texting with the intended recipient? Like bags at the airport, some phone numbers look alike.
- If you have partners or associates, do you have access to firm-related texts? This sounds creepy, but written communications in particular equals exposure.
While text messaging is viewed as informal, it still raises the same implications as any other form of professional-client communication. Attorneys are required to preserve them. You are also not buddies with your clients. Keep the relationship professional with appropriate boundaries and make sure you save your texts.
Treat texting like any other form of client communication for ethical compliance as well as good practices.