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Consumers' Corner: How the CCPA Affects Real Estate
This month marks the official start of the California Consumer Privacy Act. And for businesses across North America, it's going to be a bigger deal than you might think. The California Consumer Privacy Act, or CCPA, is primarily targeted toward protecting residents of California on business deals that they do within California's border. But it won't just affect California; it sets some precedents that may well ripple across businesses everywhere.
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Safe Selling: How Taking the Literal High Ground Can Protect Your Agents
There are several subtle tricks that real estate agents can use to psychologically "turn off" a predator who's posing as a prospect. We've talked about about a few of them over the last few months--everything from maintaining control of the showing time to a phone technique that agents can use to screen prospects. This week, we're sharing a simple secret that can demonstrate to predators that this agent is not one to mess with. That secret? Taking the high ground... literally. Watch the video above to learn: How standing slightly above a prospect unconsciously signals the agent's dominance How agents can find slightly elevated surfaces to stand on when greeting prospects at a listing or public place Why this simple act works as a "buzzkill" to potentially dangerous prospects Why legitimate prospects won't be affected by this technique--so agents don't have to worry about alienating them Next week: The sales technique that turns off predators, but makes real prospects feel like a million bucks!
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Safe Selling: The 'No Influence' Sales Strategy that Deters Predators
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Safe Selling: 4 Times Real Estate Agents Should ALWAYS Have a Showing Buddy
Brokers, how often have you advised your agents to "Just take someone with you" on a showing to stay safe? While the buddy system is an effective way to stay safe, it's not always practical. Other agents aren't always available, and the last-minute nature of some showings makes recruiting a colleague challenging. So even though agents with solid safety skills can usually go to showings without accompaniment, there are still times when your agents should ALWAYS pair up with a colleague. Watch the video above to learn the four scenarios where a showing buddy is CRITICAL for safety—and make sure your agents are aware of these situations. In this video, you'll also learn: How the buddy system tips the "flight or fight" balance in the agent's favor The unexpected reason why cell phone coverage matters to agent safety Why "Uncomfortable saves your life, but scared gets you dead"
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Safe Selling: The 3 Steps Agents Should Take to Prepare a Home for a Showing
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Safe Selling: How Agents Can Use Appointment Times to Establish Control
"Always take power and control wherever you can." That's the advice from agent safety expert Lee Goldstein. In this week's "Safe Selling" video, Lee shares another way that agents can turn off potential predators--by taking control of what time they meet a prospect for a showing. It's a simple tactic. Rather than simply agreeing to meet a new prospect at the time they suggest, Lee recommends that agents tell the prospect they'd prefer to meet them at an alternative time. Because predators look for weakness and subservience in victims, this minor pushback may signal that the agent isn't an easy target, and that the agent is the one in control. Watch the video above to learn: Why this tactic turns off predators, but leaves real clients unphased Why agents should never apologize or ask if the alternate time is "okay" with a prospect Next week: The three safety-minded things agents should do to prepare a home for a showing.
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Safe Selling: New Listing? Here's Why Agents Should Meet the Neighbors
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Safe Selling: A Script (and a Trick) for Screening Prospects
We've talking a lot about red flags lately--specifically how to spot them in new prospects. This week, learn a quick trick that agents can use over the phone to uncover hints that a prospect might be dangerous. The trick is called 'The Training Play' and it can help agents gauge a prospect's hidden motives. Watch the video above to: Hear a sample script for using the Training Play on the phone Find out which vocal cues to be alert for How agents can decide if they should take another agent with them to a showing Next week: See why it's so important to learn about the neighborhood—and to share your findings in the Showing Notes.
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Safe Selling: Why Copying that Driver's License Won't Keep You Safe
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Safe Selling: How to Spot Dangerous Red Flags Over the Phone
As a broker, have your agents ever commented that they felt 'funny' when talking to a new prospect? Don't brush off their concerns--that may be their intuition warning them that a prospect is not who they seem to be. Instead, share this video on 'active listening' and the red flags that can warn agents that something is off with a prospect—before they ever meet them in person. Watch this week's 'Safe Selling' video to learn: What active listening is, and how to use it with prospects How to tell a legitimate buyer from a suspicious prospect The 'onion peeling process' of drilling down into what a prospect says and looking for inconsistencies Why inconsistencies in what a prospect tells you are a red flag And, bonus, while active listening can help you weed out shady prospects, it can also help you gain a deeper understanding of what real buyers need! Stay tuned until next week when we'll explore why meeting a new prospect in your office and copying their license is a safety myth.    
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Safe Selling: 5 Tips for Staying Safe on Social Media
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Future of Online Identity Verification
Due to rapidly developing technology and a growing threat from identity fraud, the online verification process needs to keep evolving. Most individuals are already used to security measures like entering a PIN number or signing on the (virtual) dotted line to complete a transaction. But for high-value agreements, businesses often need to verify the identity of the person doing the electronic signing or data entry. This not only makes the process more secure, but it also helps companies meet compliance and regulatory requirements.
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Safe Selling: Why Agents Should Avoid Getting Personal in Their Marketing
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Who Is Covered by CCPA and What Does It Require?
The California Consumer Privacy Act, often thought of as "California's GDPR," is prompting companies across the US to do far more than update their privacy policies. Starting January 1, 2020, new requirements will affect thousands of businesses that leverage a wide range of personal data connected to the nearly 40 million California residents, their households, and devices. While there's no singular roadmap to being "CCPA compliant" (and ongoing amendments to the CCPA text make that a moving target), there is no shortage of strategies to prepare for this new data privacy law.
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Safe Selling: How to Avoid Marketing Language That Attracts Predators
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Safe Selling: How Predators Use Agent Photos to Select Their Next Victim
Brokers, could your agents' headshots be putting them in danger? That's the issue we explore in this week's Safe Selling episode. While the internet has made it easier for consumers to find a Realtor to work with, it's also made it easier for predators to choose their next victim. But what about a headshot makes a predator more likely to target one agent over another? Turns out, it's all about power. As we know, predators target those they perceive as weak or subservient, and avoid those who come off as strong or self-assured. In this video, we explore how agents can project power in their real estate headshots and deter predators from the get-go. Watch the clip above to learn: The body language and expressions that intimidate predators The posture and facial expressions that attract predators The two types of agent headshots: professional vs. intimate Why professional photos actually earn agents more business Stay tuned for next week's episode, where we'll learn how to deter predators with strong, not subservient language.  
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Safe Selling: Buyer or a Thief? How to Tell
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Safe Selling: How to Recognize a Common Scam that Thieves Play
Predators aren't the only danger that Realtors in the field have to worry about. Sometimes, they have to worry about individuals that are a threat to the home and personal property of their sellers. That's right, we're talking about thieves. In this week's episode of Safe Selling, learn the behaviors that thieves display and how to identify them. Today's episode is focused on a scam called "The Couple's Play," where two thieves pose as husband and wife and separate during the tour while one a) distracts the Realtor while b) the other half of the couple cases or steals from the home. Brokers, share the video above with your agents so they can understand: What the role of each person in the suspicious couple is How to identify a prospect who's deliberately distracting you How a woman playing the role of distractor talks differently to male and female agents Stay tuned for next week when we'll learn more about dealing with thieves during a showing!  
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Safe Selling: The Timeline of a Crime
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Preventing Real Estate Ransomware
The real estate industry is increasingly aware of the dangers of ransomware, which have been raised due to some recent high-profile incidents. Ransomware is malware (malicious software) that encrypts the files on your network or otherwise blocks access to them. It's called ransomware because you may be prompted to pay a ransom to regain access to the files. Most security professionals advise clients to not pay the ransom because often the hacker will not unencrypt or allow access to the files as a result. The purpose of this article is to suggest some best practices for avoiding ransomware, limiting its impact, and recovering from it. No suggested best practices can prevent all incidents of ransomware – there will always be a new attack that can bypass certain types of defenses. However, there are some reasonable steps you can take to reduce the ransomware risk for your organization.
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Hefty Security Breach Fines by the U.K. Under GDPR Regulation
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The Day I Learned of a Chilling Plot to Digitally Censor My Voice
This story is unusual and somewhat disturbing. Some of you may have seen a quick glimpse of my Amazon Echo 5 article a few weeks ago. A day after it was published, there was an incident causing me to redirect the page web address (URL) to the blog page of WAVGroup.com. It was a sunny, hot, and humid morning, the windows in my office fogged with condensation. I was beaming with pride because I published an article the night before that was fun to write. The premise of my article was to explore how technology was on a path to deliver content as a multimodal experience and its relevance to NAR MLS policy.
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Fail First Approach to Cybersecurity Is Costly
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Office Safety: Dealing with Angry Visitors, Part 4
Over the past month, we've been showing you what to do when an agitated person visits your brokerage, MLS, or association office. Today, our series wraps up with the final steps you need to take to deescalate a tense situation. Watch the video above to learn: How to guide an agitated person to a resolution by offering them options Why it's important to stress the consequences of each option Why respect and validation are crucial—and why ultimatums never work Sample scripts for offering options and validating their choice Need to catch up on this rest of this series? Check out parts one, two, and three here.  
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Office Safety: Dealing with Angry Visitors, Part 3
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Office Safety: Dealing with Angry Visitors, Part 2
When an agitated visitor comes into your office, it's better to be proactive than reactive. If you can identify an angry person before as they approach, you can prepare yourself to de-escalate the situation--and keep you and those in your office safe. How can you do that? In this week's episode of "Real Answers," we'll show you exactly what to look for. Watch the video above to learn: The physical signs of an agitated person Why you need to lead the de-escalation process, not the visitor The body language to display to better calm a person--and the physical stances to NEVER take in a tense situation Want to learn more? Check out part one of this series, where we showed you what NOT to do when an angry person visits your brokerage, association, or MLS office. Then stay tuned for a new episode next week!
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Office Safety: Dealing with Angry Visitors
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Friday Freebie: The Only Guide You'll Ever Need on Agent Safety
Your brokerage, MLS, or association can help keep agents safe by building a "culture of safety." That's according to a new guide to Realtor safety--a comprehensive 65-page ebook that includes everything from a full safety training guide, to lead assessment worksheets, free resources, and more. Want to snag your own copy? In this week's Friday Freebie, we'll show you how (no contact info required).
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A Broker's Guide to Cybersecurity: Part 3
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When Hackers Attack: The Broker's Guide to DDoS
Any company that operates online can run into cybersecurity issues--and a particularly nasty tactic that hackers sometimes use is DDoS. These attacks are a lot like hurricanes; we can predict that they'll happen, but we never actually know when they'll happen or how powerful they'll be when they do. A DDoS attack can quickly take out websites and servers of any size, even if they're properly equipped to handle it. So today, let's take a quick look at what a DDoS attack is, why they're hard to defend against, and what you can do to safeguard against them.
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GDPR and Its Effect on the US Real Estate Industry
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eXp Realty Launches Safety Check for Workplace by Facebook
eXp Realty has announced its implementation of Safety Check for Workplace by Facebook. With this tool, eXp Realty now can better confirm who is safe or might need assistance in the event of a natural disaster or crisis. Now the company's more than 18,000 agents, brokers and staff across North America can more easily connect with eXp Realty staff who can provide help and valuable resources.
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This Website Is Not Secure!
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Privacy Regulation for Everyone Coming Soon
Similar to new data security and privacy laws sweeping the European Union and California, it is only a matter of time before new laws are required throughout the United States. This week's news is the U.S. House and Senate held hearings on data security and personal privacy. The timing of the first set of hearings on Capitol Hill aligns with the fact that several other states – such as Washington, North Carolina, Oregon, and Virginia – are on a pathway to either pass new or update their security and privacy laws.
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Google Flags Websites that Are Not HTTPS as Not Secure
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4 Key Questions to Ask about Cloud Data Security
The cloud is one of those things that we all use without realizing it. As soon as you ask your browser to save a password or even a credit card number for you so you can check out of Amazon a little faster next time (not that that's a real experience or anything), you're using the cloud. We tend to assume when it comes to the most important information we have. We trust companies to make sure it's safe, and we don't ask more questions. Why not?
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Data Privacy: Everyday Best Practices to Remember
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How the FBI Foiled a Wire Transfer Scam
Wire transfer scams continue to plague the real estate industry, but brokers are deploying countermeasures and collaborating with the Federal Bureau of Investigation to catch these criminals. WAV Group was provided with an insider's overview of a recent victory by the FBI to shut down a huge ring of scammers. The story was amazing. The first thing that you should know is that a lot of these crime rings are operating out of Ghana, Nigeria, and other African nations.
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How to Connect to a Computer Remotely
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Safe Selling: Understanding How a Predator Thinks
We're re-running this popular agent safety video series from Real Safe Agent on our broker channel to highlight the importance of safety on the job. Brokers, please feel free to share and/or reuse this content on your own blog, website, social media account, internal communications, and beyond! What do alcoholics and predators that prey on real estate agents have in common? Find out in this week's Realtor safety video. Last week, we learned the differences between predators and thieves and why predators are the ones that target real estate agents for violent crimes. Today, we're taking a deep dive into the mind of the predator to learn how they think. Why? Because understanding their behavior allows us to prevent them from committing crimes. In the video above, Lee Goldstein, founder of Real Safe Agent, talks about the "offender cycle" -- a psychological pattern that both predators and substance abusers share. Watch the video to learn: How negative feelings of self-worth trigger the offender cycle How predators progress from deviant thoughts to a deviant fantasy life The point of no return when a predator decides to commit a crime Tune in next week for our next installment of Safe Selling!
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Safe Selling: Predators vs. Thieves
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Showing Safety: Where to Stand During a Home Tour, Part 2
We're re-running this popular agent safety video series from Real Safe Agent on our broker channel to highlight the importance of safety on the job. Brokers, please feel free to share and/or reuse this content on your own blog, website, social media account, internal communications, and beyond! How can agents stay safe during a showing? Over the past three weeks, we've been breaking down proactive measures agents can take to ensure their safety--both before and during a showing. This week, our video series wraps up with a demonstration on where to stand during a home tour. Last week, you learned where to stand in the entryway and kitchen. In today's video, find out how to safely position yourself in the rest of the house. Watch this video to learn: Where to stand in the living room during a showing Where to stand when prospects are touring rooms down a hallway What to do when the garage is your exit point What to do when a sliding glass door is your exit point How to make sure you can exit from the backyard More articles in this series Realtor Safety: Preparing a Home for a Showing Showing Safety: Where to Stand During a Home Tour    
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Clearing the Air: Cloud Security for Real Estate Brokerages
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Showing Safety: Where to Stand During a Home Tour
We're re-running this popular agent safety video series from Real Safe Agent on our broker channel to highlight the importance of safety on the job. Brokers, please feel free to share and/or reuse this content on your own blog, website, social media account, internal communications, and beyond! If you tuned in last week, you know just how to prepare a home in order to stay safe during a showing. But there's still one last thing you need to do before your prospects arrive... It's called "blocking," or planning where you're going to stand during a home tour. The objective is to be aware of the home's layout and position yourself in a way that doesn't make you vulnerable to potential predators. This means keeping in mind line of sight, your visibility to the outside, and access and exit points. In this week's agent safety video, you'll learn: Where to guide your prospects first How to identify possible 'choke points' How to use home features, like countertops, to distance and protect you And how to pull it all off while still seeming warm and welcoming! Stay tuned until next week when we'll talk more about staying safe during showings!
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Phishing in Real Estate and Recruiting Experience
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Realtor Safety: Preparing a Home for a Showing
We're re-running this popular agent safety video series from Real Safe Agent on our broker channel to highlight the importance of safety on the job. Brokers, please feel free to share and/or reuse this content on your own blog, website, social media account, internal communications, and beyond! In a recent edition of our agent safety video series, we learned how those who attack Realtors are different from the average criminal--they're outright predators who plan their attacks. In today's video, we'll learn how to set up a home for a showing in a way that deters those with a predatory mindset. This is the first in a miniseries of three videos on making a home safe for a showing. Watch the video above to learn the very first things you should do when you arrive at a property--and before your prospect shows up. You'll find out how to ensure that neighbors and passersby can see and hear you should anything go wrong. Stay tuned for next week when we'll reveal more tips for showing a home safely!    
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Realtor Safety: Navigating Stairs without Making Yourself Vulnerable to Attack
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Who's Attacking Real Estate Agents?
We're re-running this popular agent safety video series from Real Safe Agent on our broker channel to highlight the importance of safety on the job. Brokers, please feel free to share and/or reuse this content on your own blog, website, social media account, internal communications, and beyond! Can real estate agents get attacked in affluent, low crime areas? That's the question Lee Goldstein tackles in this week's Realtor safety video. The short answer: yes, absolutely. Violence against Realtors isn't a crime of opportunity--it's premeditated and planned out by predators. In this short video, you'll learn: How crime against agents differs from ordinary street crime Why the affluence of the area you serve doesn't matter The average profile of predators who target real estate agents--it may not be who you think! Stay tuned 'til next week for more tips and tricks on staying safe in the field!
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Realtor Safety: Opening a Lockbox and Door
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Three Stories for You to Read: Amazon, Cybersecurity, App Dev
In the event of Inman Connect this week, these were three stories I found which piqued my interest this last week. Will Amazon Uber-ize the Real Estate Industry? Cisco and Juniper Networks stocks slipped last Friday on news from The Information that Amazon was entering the $14 billion data center equipment business. While searching for more news, I stumbled upon investment firm TwinRock Partners' article about Amazon and real estate.
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Essential Tips for Protecting Client Data
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A Broker's Guide to Cybersecurity: Part 2
For part one of this series, click here. Now that we've acknowledged that yes, your brokerage is a potential target for hackers, let's start with setting some ground rules for cybersecurity. While these rules aren't very sexy, they are absolutely essential to protecting your brokerage. Establish an Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) First, each employee and agent using your network should be subject to signing an acceptable use policy (AUP).
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GDPR Playing Havoc in the EU
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A Brokers Guide to Cybersecurity
As a real estate broker, you want to provide your customers, staff, and agents with access to the Internet and information in a way that is easy, quick, and timely. However, with that service comes the responsibility of making sure it is secure. Not many months go by where we don't hear about a cybersecurity breach (e.g., Home Depot, Target, Equifax, Yahoo, Facebook, etc.). While these breaches cost companies millions of dollars, the loss of customer confidence is more expensive still. Your brokerage is a target, no matter the size.
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How Europe's New Personal Data Rule Impacts Real Estate
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10 Questions to Ask Your Tech Vendor About Your Data
You've most likely heard about the recent news in the industry calling to question the safety of your personal contacts, sphere, leads or other data that belongs to your real estate business. The security and integrity of your personal sphere and its corresponding data in many ways is the core of your business and repeat business. Many tech platforms expect you to freely hand over your private sphere data in order to use their solutions. And there lies the question: How safe is your data when you hand it over?
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WAV Group Systems Audits and Integration
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All Computers and Servers at Risk from Spectre and Meltdown
Every computer device – server, laptop, desktop, every router, every wireless router, every network printer, every network fax machine, and every phone is impacted. Don't freak out. Being impacted and being attacked are two different things. We are going to explain what is happening in layman's terms and help you get through it. Right before Christmas, researchers discovered that there is a security vulnerability (like an open door) that exposes computers built after 1995 to risk. Google found it (nod in reverence to Jann Horn of Google who was a key researcher who found both vulnerabilities – Meltdown and Spectre. If you want to geek out, visit this website). Basically, all of your usernames and passwords go through your chipset without encryption. This means that the door is open, not that you are infected with a virus. If you want to super geek out, look at Jann Horn's blog. Here is the layman's understanding of the issue. Unless you live under a rock, you have heard about Intel processors. Intel is a brand, and all brands of processors are open to attack. Processors are the electronic pieces of hardware that do all of the work on all computer devices. This is not a vulnerability that is limited to Intel processors, however. It impacts all multi-core processors. If you know what a kernel is, that is what is open to attack. Basically, every chipset in every electronic device after 1995 is at risk. Again, it is not a virus, it's a flaw and there is a risk that the hardware can be attacked. Everyone, everywhere is at risk and it will impact every device you use and every cloud service you use. Your anti-virus software will not prevent this attack – in fact, it may block the software patch from being installed properly. Read what your anti-virus vendor tells you.
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Can Blockchain Restore Trust in Real Estate Transactions?
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Why You Should Use HTTPS for a Safe and Secure Site
Do you have HTTPS or SSL enabled on your real estate website? By implementing HTTPS, you can further protect the integrity of your site, as well as data you are collecting. With HTTPS enabled, you will gain an immeasurable advantage over your competitors by instilling trust in potential leads. First things first: What is SSL? SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) creates an encrypted connection between your web server and your visitors' web browser. This allows for sensitive information (such as passwords or email addresses) to be transmitted without being hacked, tampered with or intercepted. If someone were to capture the data being transferred via HTTPS, it would be unrecognizable. Why do you need it? Perhaps most importantly, Google Chrome displays a 'Not secure' warning for all HTTP pages. By enabling SSL, you'll proactively prevent pop-up warnings and increase the amount of time users spend on your site, resulting in more lead capture opportunities. Not to mention, since security is a top priority for Google, HTTPS enabled sites are automatically given a minor ranking boost! Why should you want it? Google isn't the only one who cares about your website's security; so do prospective clients! According to the National Association of REALTORS® Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends, home seekers rated honesty and trustworthiness as the most important factors when choosing an agent. Well, since 44 percent of home searches start online, this sense of security begins with your real estate website. To sum up, the benefits of HTTPS/SSL compatibility include: Gaining an unparalleled advantage over competing real estate websites by providing visitors with peace of mind. Ensuring you remain at the leading edge of SEO functionality and Google's Chrome browser updates with SSL functionality. Keeping visitors coming to your real estate site is important, and they are more likely to leave if they encounter any roadblocks or feel their security is at risk. Enabling HTTPS or SSL ensures your leads feel safe and secure, while enhancing the credibility of your real estate site. Your visitors will love knowing you take their security seriously! To view the original article, visit the IDX Broker blog.
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Can You Get Protection Against Cyber Fraud?
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Stay Safe When You Use Drone Photography and Honor Others' Privacy
As drones become ever more popular in the business and home entertainment sectors, privacy concerns abound – and incensed Americans are taking offensive action. With some states allowing private citizens to shoot at drones, safety and the protection of privacy and property are becoming an increasingly important facet with drone video usage in real estate marketing. How can you protect yourself?
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Phishing: Preventing the Bait and Hook in the Pond of Security for Brokers
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Which Brokerage Intranet Solution is Right for You? (Part 2)
Yesterday, we took a look at the first of two intranet solutions for brokerages. Today, we're highlighting WOLFconnect, an intranet and "front office" platform from our 2017-18 Technology Guide. What is WOLFconnect? WOLFconnect is part of Lone Wolf's Complete Enterprise Solution, a full service brokerage platform that includes back office, accounting, website management, transaction management, and more. While WOLFconnect can stand alone, it is arguably more powerful when connected to the rest of the suite. WOLFconnect itself is a modular solution that offers five different modules that brokerages can purchase as suits their needs:
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Which Brokerage Intranet Solution is Right for You? (Part 1)
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Zillow Protects Broker Data
WAV Group supports brokers and MLSs in constructing data licensing agreements with users of data records that belong to the broker. When a company like Zillow ingests broker data, like all recipients, they must adhere to the data license agreement, which typically requires that you cannot allow the data to be used by a third party. The blog McMansionHell.com is learning the hard way that using data from Zillow without proper authority is a copyright violation that Zillow will pursue. Not only will Zillow pursue the violation, but they are contractually bound to pursue the violation. The media around the case is a bit confused, so let me try to break it down in layman's terms.
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Home Office Security: What Every Business Owner Should Know
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The IRS Warns Against These Tax Scams
It's tax season and that means tracking down all your forms, maximizing your write-offs with things like the mileage deduction and potentially getting a refund. The scammers are also out in force this time of year. Here are some common tax scams the IRS has rounded up and some tips on how to avoid them. Phone Call Scams There are thousands of scammers who try to trick people over the phone every year. This often involves somebody claiming you owe taxes or penalties and if you don't pay quickly, you'll be faced with punitive measures—including jail. What's insidious about this is that the scammers can have legitimate information about you including your name, address or Social Security number. The IRS will never: Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the chance to question or appeal the amount they say you owe Require a certain payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card Call you about taxes you owe without first mailing you an official IRS notice Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone Threaten to bring in local police or other law enforcement to have you arrested for not paying.
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REALTOR® Safety Webinar: Get Smart about Smart Homes and Your Safety (9/14)
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[Video] It's Your Business, It's Your Data!
Do you know how, where, and when your transaction data is being used? Brokers are overwhelmingly turning to cloud solutions to manage and complete transactions, and the handling of that transaction data is a top concern. As the facilitators of the real estate transaction, brokers are responsible for the care of sensitive client information. Are your technology vendors transparent about how and where they store your business data once it has been entered into their system? If you're not sure, watch the video below. It's a recording of a live webinar we hosted earlier today on how to evaluate technology vendors for data security. We were joined by special guests Glenn Shimkus and Georg Gerstenfeld of DocuSign, a global leader in the push for standards in digital transaction management. Brokers from across the nation tuned in to the webinar to learn key considerations and questions to ask technology providers. If you were unable to join us, don't worry. You can watch the full recording below:
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Groundbreaking Agent Safety Class and Study Announced
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Cyber Security: How Brokerages Can Protect Themselves
October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month, and today we're looking at how brokers can better protect sensitive client data. Digital security is increasingly complex goal to achieve. Every advance in technology brings new risks alongside the benefits. Wi-Fi untethered us from our desks and ethernet cables, but also made our devices vulnerable. The Internet opened up a new world of marketing, including on social media, but gave criminals an easy way to target their next victim. And let's not forget the rapidly evolving "Internet of Things" where wearable devices, appliances, cars, smart home technology and more are able to connect and "talk" to each other. No wonder cyber security is so complicated! That said, there are steps brokers can take to ensure their firm is as safe as possible. Obviously, this includes things like securely storing digital documents and carefully evaluating software and other tech tools that handle client data (see more tips here). However, much of the security burden falls on agents' shoulders and the measures they take when they're away from the confines of your secure office. Below is a list of digital security tips you can share with your agents and staff to keep them (and their devices) as safe as possible: 1. Know how to identify a tampered document - While many brokers provide their agents with e-signature and transaction management solutions, some do not. Unfortunately those agents who "go it alone" don't always choose secure solutions that protect documents from tampering. That can jeopardize the legality of an entire transaction! To learn how to protect yourself, your client, and the sale, see Can You Trust That eSignature? How to Spot a Tampered Document.
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10 Mobile Security Questions Brokers Should Be Asking
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Sex Offender Poses as a Fake Buyer in This Bizarre Home Showing
Are you sure that your prospective buyers are on a legitimate search for homes? A North Texas Realtor recently had a frightening encounter with a would-be buyer that serves as a reminder to exercise caution during any in-person home showings. Last August, Colleyville Realtor Ty Williams received a call from Tommie Marvin Hawkins Jr., who claimed to be in the market for a home in the $2 million range. Hawkins asked Williams to meet him near the condo where he was purportedly staying and also insisted on driving, so the two departed in his car. At first, Williams did not sense any problems. He said that Hawkins "asked all the right questions" and seemed to be on the up-and-up. However, as the two viewed the final house, Hawkins asked Williams, "Which of these homes would you leave your wife for me for?" While the two laughed it off, Williams says he began to feel uncomfortable but ultimately wrote it off as a bit of eccentricity. The situation became even more disturbing on the second day of viewings when Hawkins parked his car and began a rambling monologue during which he made sexual overtures to Williams.  
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Data Security is the Law
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9 Ways to Keep Data Secure
Cybercrimes happen every day and they can devastate people's lives and livelihoods. With all the personal information real estate companies collect, a breach in security could cost a brokerage business and tarnish its reputation. "Having the right tools to protect yourself and your clients is crucial in this war against hackers," says Denise Mainquist, founder of the information technology company ITPAC Consulting in Lincoln, Neb. One of the first things brokers need to know, she says, is that hackers aren't random; they relentlessly search the online world to find their next victim. They look for the most vulnerable systems, and then they attack with phishing, malware, ransomware, and other scams. "A real estate agency is a perfect example of an environment that is susceptible to hackers ... especially the high-end residential sales firms," says Brad Deflin, founder of Total Digital Security in Palm Beach, Fla. Sometimes personal information related to transactions is sent or viewed on sales agents' personal (nonbrokerage) smartphones and computers. The information can be anything from banking and tax information to legal documents, itineraries, and leases. Deflin says it's difficult to fully eliminate all risk of a cyber attack. However, it's possible to substantially reduce your risks without too much expense or change in user behavior. Here are some ideas for what brokers can do now to protect themselves and their agents from being hacked.
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Groundbreaking Real Estate Agent Safety Study Announced
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4 Cyber Scams Targeting Brokerages
You never know who is peeking into your files these days. Cybercrime has become a huge threat, with a growing number of scams affecting real estate agencies virtually every day. "There's a new level of sophistication going on out there in cyber threats," says Jessica Edgerton, associate counsel at the National Association of REALTORS®. "There is a lot of money changing hands in real estate, and that's why it's worth it to these folks to come after real estate professionals." A 2014 Forrester Research study shows that people who purchased a home within the past 12 months are 2.8 times more likely to be a victim of identity theft. In fact, in December 2012, two people were imprisoned for running a massive identity theft ring in San Diego, and police believe most of the information they used came from real estate files. As time goes on, scams continue to become more sophisticated. But which ones are the biggest threats real estate agencies, and what should you do if you are hacked? 1. Wire Fraudsters: The Georgia Association of REALTORS® warned its members early last year not to e-mail money wiring instruction to clients. Hackers had been mimicking their e-mails and sending similar ones to clients with the intention of diverting funds to fraudulent accounts. Ned Blumenthal with Weissman, Nowack, Curry & Wilco, a law firm in Atlanta, has dealt with at least three dozen wiring scams committed against real estate agents and their clients in the past year. One particular case involved a couple that fell victim to the wire fraud when selling their home.
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Stay Ahead of Hackers
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A Tech's Tale of a Real Life Schemer: The Fake Microsoft Scam Running Amok on Us All
ROFL, that was fun. A scammer called me. I scrambled to open my Windows 10 VMware to let him do his thing. First he told me he was from Microsoft and that my computer was reporting to MS that I had errors. I said Oh, no! What can we do!? He said he could show me and then help me fix it. First, to prove he knew it was my computer, he had me open a command window and list file associations and claimed the following was a unique identifier for my computer: zfsendtotarget=clsid 888dca60-fc0a-11cf-8f0f-00c04fd7d062 (More info on that here. It's just the entry for right click send to zip file.) Then he had me open MSInfo. Look at all the errors! He claimed those were the messages Microsoft was getting. Oh, no, what do we do?!
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2015 Data Storage: Your Security Role
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Online, Safety Is Your 'Social Responsibility'
Guest contributor John Graden of REALTOR®Mag says: Social media has changed the landscape for everyone. For you, it's made it easier to target clients. And for criminals, it's made it easier to target you. Any bad guy you would potentially deal with before, during, and after a showing is playing a role. He's pretending to be someone you, the victim, can trust. From the time he first contacts you, he will stay in character until he either executes his plan or bails out. Pulling off that charade is a whole lot easier with free and easy tools online that he can use to create an identity and follow your trail. On Facebook and other social media platforms, a criminal may be able to find out what college you attended, what sports teams you like, how many kids you have, and where you like to vacation. He can even see highly detailed images of where you work, live, and the place where he is going to meet you for a showing. A criminal's ability to "pull off his role" is magnified because it's much easier to create rapport with target audiences online than ever before. As convenient as the cyber world has made doing business for the good guys, it's made it a whole lot easier for bad guys, too. Remember that online communities are comprised of three groups of users: the safest third, the not-so-safe middle third, and the highly dangerous bottom third. When it comes to the highly dangerous bottom third, some are transparent in their aggressive hostility and easy to see and avoid. However, it's the more cunning psychopath that is more difficult to recognize because he is an expert at playing the good guy and gaining favor.
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Your Guide to Warding Off Cybercriminals: 7 Top Tips To Keep Your Data Safe Right Now
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Turn Your iPod, iPhone, or iPad into a Security Camera with the "Presence" App
The application "Presence" turns iOS devices into a video surveillance system with smart home energy control and more. See what's happening in your home or listed property live from anywhere when you're gone. If motion is detected, you will know within seconds. iPad2, iPhone 3GS, and 4th Generation iPod or newer are required. The app is currently ONLY available on iOS. Free Version The Presence App offers: FREE App download 50MB cloud storage Basic functionality (average day of basic monitoring is about 4MB) Paid Version The Presence PRO App offers: 2GB cloud storage Faster camera resets Customizable notifications (COST: $4.99/mo or $49.99/year)
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5 Tips to Protect Your Smartphone From Hackers
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8 Safety Tips and Tools for Avoiding Tragedy
This year's REALTOR® Safety Month ended on a tragic note. Authorities announced early Tuesday morning that the body of missing real estate agent Beverly Carter was found nearly 30 miles from the bank-owned home she was showing when she disappeared. Rather than recount the somber details here, we simply want to remind Realtors of the safety precautions they can take to help keep them safe. Brokers can be particularly helpful by requiring that their agents meet unknown buyers at the brokerage's office first--and then enforcing that policy. We've gathered a list of safety resources here for your convenience. Brokers, please share this information with your agents. Open House Safety - The high traffic of open houses can be a challenge. These 10 tips help ensure the safety of sellers, their property, and your agents. Keeping Listings Safe - How can you better ensure the safety of your sellers' homes? These eight tips will show you how. Safety During Showings and Meeting New Prospects - Entering vacant houses and meeting unknown people can make agents vulnerable targets. Incorporate these common sense ideas into your work routine to protect yourself. Beyond the safety precautions mentioned above, there are also tech tools that your agents can use to help protect themselves. Here are some of the best: AgentsArmor - This mobile app was created specifically for real estate agents. Users can set check-in times at select intervals. If the agent fails to check-in at the pre-specified time, authorities will be notified. The app will then use your phone's GPS to activate the "Agent Locator" feature. Brokerages and Associations who would like to provide the app to all of their agents should visit the app's Brokerage page.
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Who Owns Your Consumer After the Close?
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Data Backup Options
So, you've probably got all your files – documents, music, videos, photos, EVERYTHING – on your computer. It's probably all nice, neat, and organized just how you like it. And you probably have it all backed up on an external hard drive or cloud storage, right? Right?? If the answer is "yes," you can stop reading this now. If you're one of the majority of people who would answer "no," this is the article for you. Although we've written about the importance of data backup a few times in the past, the occasional refresher can save at least a few new people from hard drive disaster. Problem: You have a LOT of important (and probably irreplaceable) files in ONE place – your computer. Solutions: Hard Drive Backup – This involves purchasing an external hard drive and running backup software. The cost? About $100. We recommend Seagate and Western Digital drives, preferably with a capacity of 1TB (one terabyte) or larger. Cloud Storage Backup – This involves signing up for a free or paid online storage plan. Free plans usually don't include much storage, but paid plans can be very cost effective (and ABSOLUTELY worth it to keep your data safe from disaster). We recommend MCW Backup (of course) or a similar service such as CrashPlan. Features will vary from service to service, but the important thing is to get your data backed up!
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Public Wi-Fi Tips
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Data Security for Real Estate
It is one of the harsh realities of conducting business in 2014: data breaches or data loss are an increasingly common threat that are only becoming more expensive to recover from. Bad guys have an arsenal of sophisticated tools at their disposal that they can use to steal, hack, deface or otherwise ruin your business. IBM estimates that in 2014, the average cost of a business data breach is $3.5 million US – a 15% increase over the 2013 cost. An industry like real estate is an especially juicy target since real estate professionals often have access to sensitive client information including banking, legal and personal contact information. If this information is unlawfully accessed it allows crooks to do things like steal identities, empty bank accounts and take over your computer. So what is a savvy real estate professional like you to do to counter this very real threat? Two things: Learn how protect your data Implement "defensive layers" around your data 1) Learn to protect yourself Knowledge is power and, when it comes to data security, this holds especially true. If you do not understand what you are dealing with, it will be hard to follow through in the next steps. A great first step is to see what manner of educational resources are offered to you through your broker or your board/MLS/association. Most will either offer courses or have experts on hand who can help you understand what the prevailing threats are.
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Realtor.com and Top Producer Back Online After Two Day Internet Battle
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Tips for Combating Mobile Malware
There has been a rise in mobile malware recently, especially in the Android community. Here are some tips and recommendations for protecting yourself from becoming a victim of malware on your mobile device. Anti-Malware Apps Anti-malware applications can help protect you from mobile malware. However, Windows RT (used on Windows Phone and Windows Surface) and iOS do not have third-party support for anti-malware software. Microsoft does have its Windows Defender software as part of the Windows RT operating system. But with Apple's iOS, there is nothing available due to Apple's strict App Store submission policies. Microsoft is the same way with apps submitted to their app store, but the added support of Windows Defender offers at least some protection. On the Android side, Google's Play store policies are quite relaxed. As long as an app creator pays the one-time fee to submit an app, he or she can put as many apps in the store as they want. As of recent, Google does automatically check for any kind of malicious code, but will occasionally miss a few. For Android users, we recommend a good anti-malware app such as Lookout Security and Antivirus, Avast Mobile Security and Antivirus, or AVG AntiVirus Security.
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Internet Explorer Vulnerability Affects ALL Versions
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It’s Time to Take Your eSignature Tool Seriously–The Law Does
We're continuing a holiday tradition of sharing our most popular articles of the year. This article was originally published to our Agent channel back in July: Did you know that June 30 was National ESIGN Day? Bet you didn't know it, but you should, and here's why. First, a quick history... In 1998 the US Congress amended the Bank Protection Act of 1968 to include digital/electronic signature and authentication, the act was known as "Digital Signature and Authentication Law (SEAL) of 1998" permitting, and helping define, the use of electronic signatures in all aspects of business. In 2000, Congress enacted the "Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act (ESIGN)" into law. This was a turning point for the acceptance of the digital signature and authentication standard. How many REALTOR® members or even real estate professionals are aware of the authentication standards that were set? To boil it down, you need three primary points to prove a valid electronic signature: Legally valid - This is established by consenting to sign digitally and reviewing a consent statement including information on how to obtain paper copies, how to withdraw consent, and who is requesting the signature. Auditable - There must be an audit trail, including the email address, IP address and potentially even the geographical location of the individual at the time of signing. The time stamp is also necessary. The audit trail becomes part of the verification and certification of the digital signature. Tamper Evident - The digital signature must also be able to reveal if the document has been tampered with.
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How do laws protecting consumer privacy affect your business?
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Ask the Expert: How Do I Choose an eSignature?
Today's "Ask the Expert" column features Tom Gonser, the Founder and Chief Strategy Officer of DocuSign. Q: As the importance of eSignatures continues to grow, what must real estate professionals keep in mind when choosing a product? A: As DocuSign's founder, I'm familiar with eSignature legal frameworks, especially in real estate as a primary market for us. In the past four years, we've seen big changes in the use of tech with eSignature as the preferred way REALTORS® close transactions. In fact, NAR reported that more than 50 percent of all REALTORS® have used eSignature in the past year. eSignature eliminates printing, faxing, scanning and overnighting to create an easier, faster, more convenient and secure transaction. However, if not careful, agents can put their clients and transactions at risk with the wrong eSignature tool. As a third party with a significant stake in the integrity of real estate contracts, banks must ensure the validity of contracts funded by their loans. Banks across the country, including Bank of America, have supplied detailed requirements for eSigned documents. While some eSignature solutions meet the minimum requirements set by the U.S. ESIGN Act, many don't create reliable contracts. Some aren't even compliant with the ESIGN Act.
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5 Home Security Apps Your Clients Need
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Are Your Listings Being Hijacked?
Real estate professionals are constantly running into situations where their listings are being hijacked and published on sites like Craigslist as part of rental scams. The National Association of REALTORS® has a Risk Management Committee that published a guide to monitoring your listings online so you can be alerted to any unauthorized use of your listing. NAR suggests three methods for monitoring your listings: Google Alerts IfThisThenThat (IFTTT) Google Images With Google Alerts, you simply enter the address of your property listing. Be sure to include site 'craigslist.org' in the query with your property address. Set the Result Type to Everything, set How Often to Daily, and set How Many to Everything. This is also a handy way to send a report to your seller. IfThisThenThat is another service for monitoring your listing online. You can create a free account and set up an alert that they call a Recipe. Select Craigslist as a trigger channel. To build the recipe, do a search on Craigslist and copy the URL of the search and paste it into IfThisThenThat. The last step is to create an email alert.
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Privacy and The Real Estate Process
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Protect Your Online Identity For Eternity
Now, you really can live forever, but that's not necessarily a good thing. Many of your online accounts – from automatic bill payments to eBay – may remain active after you pass away, unless you take steps to ensure they don't, says attorney Hillel Presser, author of Financial Self-Defense (Revised Edition). Automatic bill pay, for example, can theoretically keep tapping your bank account long after you're gone or, at least, until your money is. "It's important to make sure your online bank and shopping accounts, even your social media, can be closed out, or that your loved ones are authorized to access them," Presser says. "You may ask, 'Why would I care if I'm gone?' I can tell you from experience: because it can create real headaches, and more heartache, for your family." Bank and shopping accounts will be vulnerable to identity theft, which would affect your estate if someone opens credit cards in your name. You might have valuable intellectual property, like domain names. They may need access to your health records, particularly if you died under questionable circumstances, he says. There's the sentimental stuff – photos and emails — that your family may want as a remembrance of you, and the libraries of music and ebooks, which may represent a considerable investment on your part.
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