Data Privacy Day on Jan. 28 is soon approaching. The National Cyber Security Alliance’s (NCSA) Data Privacy Day campaign educates consumers on how to manage their online presence, and also promotes privacy as good for business.
Real estate is just as vulnerable as any other industry when it comes to data and the cyber world. It’s imperative that industry professionals know how to protect themselves, and also how to guide their clients toward safe internet practices, especially during a real estate transaction. NCSA’s campaign revolves around its STOP. THINK. CONNECT.™ slogan. Here’s how real estate professionals can participate:
Keep Data Private in Your Business
A brokerage that is vulnerable to data breaches is a disservice to its clients. Industry professionals must do their part in ensuring that consumers’ trust is rightfully earned by protecting their data. Part of this is being transparent; agents should clearly communicate to their clients how their information is gathered and used throughout a real estate transaction. Brokerages should also have a strategy in place for ensuring that data is secure; these strategies should be shared with consumers, as well. And, just as important as protecting the information they receive from clients, agents should ensure that all vendors they work with also implement safe and secure data privacy practices.
Stay Savvy This Tax Season
With tax season just around the corner, it’s more important than ever that both agents and consumers know how to protect themselves from tax fraud. It all comes down to keeping data safe and knowing who to trust. The IRS, for example, will never visit a home and will most likely not email or call a taxpayer. The IRS generally sends all communications via mail, so individuals should be wary of trusting anything else. Passwords should be complex and difficult to guess, and Social Security numbers should be hidden away from view. Also, if filing online, taxpayers should ensure they are transacting on a secure network to reduce the chances of hacking. Most importantly, taxpayers should shred all documents with sensitive information to prevent the data from getting into the wrong hands.
Become a Social Advocate for Data Privacy
If agents want to become a trusted source for real estate information, they can begin by building that trust on social media and advocating safe online data practices. This can be as simple as sharing a few tips every week with a unique hashtag, such as #StayCyberSafe, or it can be taken a step further through the creation of a video series or shareable educational resources. A campaign can also be implemented via email if agents want to widen their reach. This is a great way for industry professionals to inform consumers of the changing cyber landscape and its security practices, but also keeps the real estate industry updated on the newest fraud trends so agents can be prepared to prevent hacking.
Part of NAR’s code of Ethics and Standards of Practice is the “obligation to preserve the confidentiality of personal information provided by clients in the course of any agency or non-agency relationship—both during and after the termination of these business relationships.”