Your Data Stolen via Real Estate Transaction!
When completing a real estate transaction your personal data is vulnerable due to the number of information exchanges via electronic mediums. Now with everything being done via the internet to save time it's super important to protect yourself.
Protecting your real estate transaction and personal information involved in your real estate transaction starts with making sure the Brokerage you decide to use has systems in place to guard your data. In Maryland, real estate transactions keep in mind when using agents that send information via personal emails your information is at risk. There is a real cost to doing business in Real Estate and brokers must use the most secure platforms that are monitored on a daily basis with end to end encryption. These services are expensive and most Brokerages/ Agents usually don't have the funds for these types of services. Even the largest brokerage firms in Maryland do not have protocols in place to protect your data when buying or selling your home. This is very scary because the largest firms are the first to be attacked because of the transaction volume is so large that your transaction is just a number.
The most important way to ensure your data is protected when working on a real estate transaction is to confirm prior to sending or receiving any critical information is to verify with the real estate Broker / Agent what they are sending and when. If a system has been hacked you might get a random email you think is from your Agent and it just might be a ruse. So again, always confirm who and what is being sent.
Number One, beware of companies using the lessor websites platforms or off name services. As the saying goes you get what you pay for, and even if the services providers used are the best in the market you should always ask your real estate broker, what is their protocol if one of their systems are compromised.
Number Two. It sounds very simple but is one of the best ways to protect your information is make sure you are changing any passwords at least once a month and ask your broker how many times they change their service provider passwords. The most concerned real estate brokers should be changing their firm's passwords on a weekly/ bi-weekly basis. By doing this it makes it harder for hackers to zero in on your data and theirs.
Here are some passwords to avoid:
You should have passwords that you keep in a log that is not related to you or anyone in your immediate family. As a Real Estate professional, it cost money to do business. And if you want to make sure you are dealing with the best real estate brokers they will understand servicing their clients it starts with protecting their client's valuable data.
Number three and in conclusion, you should ask your real estate agent/broker personal information about themselves and their education and the easiest way to do this is to ask for their resume and quiz them on the information they provide. There is almost a no better way to make sure you're dealing with a true professional then knowing where they came from and legitimate certifications/degrees they have achieved. You would not want a surgeon operating on you that does not have a degree in medicine. Why would it be any different with your finances and real estate?
Ryan E. Shilow
A Johns Hopkins Master of Real Estate and MD/PA Broker of Record