Why Should Real Estate Professionals Care About Data Privacy?
Safeguarding client information should be a priority for modern real estate professionals, especially as more and more states consider new laws designed to protect consumer data. Here’s why you should be vigilant about data privacy, along with some tips for keeping sensitive information safe.
A Growing Concern
These days, data privacy has made news for all the wrong reasons, as several major corporations have suffered data breaches exposing the personal and financial data of millions of Americans. In response, there has been a growing demand for regulations that force businesses to collect and safeguard consumer information in specific ways.
As a real estate professional, you could be subject to forthcoming laws relating to data privacy. Even without these laws, data protection should be a top priority for the following reasons:
Keep your clients safe. Your clients aren’t just trusting you to find the home of their dreams; they’re trusting you with their personal and financial information. As a real estate professional, you will have access to sensitive data that simply cannot fall into the wrong hands. If it does, you won’t just lose your client, you could also be held liable for civil damages.
Avoid potential legal issues. The European Union has already passed the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which places stringent rules on how businesses gather and protect sensitive consumer data. While these laws do not apply to companies and real estate agents working in the U.S., several states are considering enacting similar legislation. It’s only a matter of time before new laws put pressure on American companies and real estate professionals to keep consumer data secure. It’s best to prepare now, so you won’t have to scramble to become compliant later.
Protect your reputation. Your success as a real estate professional depends on trust. Clients need to know that you will always have their best interests in mind, whether they are selling a property, looking for their dream home or seeking lucrative property investment opportunities. To maintain your status as a trusted ally and adviser, you need to make sure you safeguard all sensitive data. Even one mistake could lead to serious problems and forever tarnish your reputation as a trustworthy real estate professional.
Whether you’re accepting payments, signing escrow documents or simply emailing back and forth with a client, you need to make sure all of this information and documentation is kept safe from prying eyes. Take steps to secure your digital footprint by using strong passwords. You should implement two-factor authentication for any app or website that requires you to log in. You should also use an encrypted storage solution for your clients’ personal and financial documents. Make sure your computers have malware protection and good firewalls, thoroughly vet any third-party software and never include sensitive data in the body of emails.
If you aren’t sure how to secure your clients’ data, talk to a reputable web security specialist who can make recommendations to help you avoid potential problems. You can also consult The National Association of REALTORS® Data Security and Privacy Toolkit, which contains comprehensive information on how real estate associations, agents and brokers can prioritize data security and privacy to protect client information and comply with legal responsibilities.
2-10 HBW offers comprehensive Systems and Appliances Home Warranties to help protect your clients from unexpected repair and replacement costs. Contact us to learn more.