New buyer question: Is my data secure?

CHICAGO – April 7, 2014 – The issue of data security is hot in the nation’s capital – from the Data Security and Breach Notification Act of 2013 to the CEO of Target Corp being hauled to The Hill for grilling over his company’s recent security breach. Even the White House is getting involved, shopping around a consumer privacy bill of rights.

But it’s not just Washington. Americans stung by the loss of personal data have started to worry about the private information they give out, and many want to know how a Realtor protects that data from hackers.

During the first Tech Edge event held at the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) headquarters in downtown Chicago, NAR Senior Technology Policy Representative Melanie Wyne says, “Clients today are smart and savvy. They want to know what you’re doing to keep their data safe.”

Real estate professionals need to make sure they secure clients’ drivers license numbers, earnest money checks, HUD1 forms, rental applications, and any mortgage broker/lender information they may have on behalf of their customers.

“You’re responsible for the security of the information that you collect,” says Wyne.

Forty-six states currently have data breach laws on the books. But really, it doesn’t matter what state you live in, Wyne says. If an agent or broker is dealing with a client who lives in Indiana, they need to be sure they’re using that data in a way that complies with Indiana’s laws.

That’s why many in the business community, especially national companies, are for the most part happy to see Washington getting involved, Wyne says. “Industry is asking to be regulated … if you’re a business that is national, you’d rather deal with a national law.”

“I’m going to scare you a little bit… this is an issue that really no one in our industry is paying attention to,” Wyne says. “The good news is that there are tech tools that can help you.”

Wyne suggests employing a data encryption system, which basically “scrambles up your system” so that only someone with a passkey can read it. For those wanting to learn more about encryption, Wyne says do a quick search of for encryption tools.

Another easy solution is to simply not collect as much data as you do, and only store it for as long as you absolutely need it. Just because there’s a space on the form for it, does it mean it’s necessary? “Think about what you’re collecting and why you’re collecting it,” she says.

Source: Meg White, Realtor® Magazine

© 2014 Florida Realtors® 

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