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Security and Business Continuity: Learnings from the Pandemic
While the last few months have been challenging, and they have also been a learning experience for everyone. Christopher Callahan, CISO for Weichert Companies, and I had an extensive conversation on security and business continuity learnings from the pandemic. Why is this important? In the business world, Shelter-in-Place (SiP) has displaced the workforce from the safe confines of corporate offices into employees' homes. I mean, everyone! A full-fledged transformation into a virtual company. The security exposure and risks have increased significantly across all aspects of the business. Isolation of remote access to the company information is limited to the sales team and a few staff who are road warriors. Now, completion of the firm's business occurs in little islands of offices — for every employee. Chris and I discuss pandemic planning topics as part of a business continuity strategy and other security practices. We take a stab at the security risks and new processes and policies that need to be reviewed or implemented. The design of Insightful Tech is to expose people and technology to the WAV Group's audience. The intent is to provide interviews, demos, and pass on the knowledge I've gained to help people do more with technology. I do want to give Chris a big "Thank you" for participating in my first interview. I appreciate his knowledge, our long-time friendship, and for taking this journey with me. Please be patient on some of my techniques and equipment. I am figuring this out as I do these videos. Why not keep learning and trying to be better! Anyone who knows me understands incremental gain is my idealogy. I promise to be better and to help others be better too. Click the image below to watch the interview: To view the original article, visit the WAV Group blog.
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Keep Your Agents Safe: 45 Videos on Smarter, Safer Selling
Over the past year, we've been running two video series on Realtor safety from Real Safe Agent. We encourage our brokerage and MLS/association readers to share these videos freely with your agents. Safety, after all, is a community effort! To that end, we've compiled links to all 45 videos for easy access and sharing. The first series, "Safe Selling," is a 28-part course that focuses on how predators think and how agents can use this knowledge to prevent tragedy before it even happens. Covering everything from body language, to marketing messaging, to social media, client communications, and beyond, Safe Selling is a crash course in real estate criminal psychology. The second series, "Real Answers," offers practical tips on safely showing vacant homes, talking down angry office visitors, detecting thieves posing as buyers, and more. Both series are produced by Real Safe Agent. You can learn more about Real Safe Agent in our Company Directory, or by watching the two videos below: Safe Selling Safe Selling: Predators vs. Thieves Safe Selling: Understanding How a Predator Thinks Safe Selling: The Timeline of a Crime Safe Selling: How to Recognize a Common Scam that Thieves Play Safe Selling: Buyer or a Thief? How to Tell Safe Selling: How Predators Use Agent Photos to Select Their Next Victim Safe Selling: How to Avoid Marketing Language That Attracts Predators Safe Selling: Why Agents Should Avoid Getting Personal in Their Marketing Safe Selling: 5 Tips for Staying Safe on Social Media Safe Selling: How to Spot Dangerous Red Flags Over the Phone Safe Selling: Why Copying that Driver's License Won't Keep You Safe Safe Selling: A Script (and a Trick) for Screening Prospects Safe Selling: New Listing? Here's Why Agents Should Meet the Neighbors Safe Selling: How Agents Can Use Appointment Times to Establish Control Safe Selling: The 3 Steps Agents Should Take to Prepare a Home for a Showing Safe Selling: 4 Times Real Estate Agents Should ALWAYS Have a Showing Buddy Safe Selling: How to Maximize Your Visibility During a Showing Safe Selling: How Taking the Literal High Ground Can Protect Your Agents Safe Selling: The 'No Influence' Sales Strategy that Deters Predators Safe Selling: How to Keep a Safe Distance from Prospects at a Showing Safe Selling: Why Bedrooms Are a Danger Zone During Showings Safe Selling: Dealing with the Dangers of Master Suites Safe Selling: Opening a Lockbox and Door Safe Selling: Easy Tricks for Navigating Stairs Safe Selling: Stay Out of Outbuildings! Safe Selling: Showing Prep Tips for When You Can't Arrive Early Safe Selling: Reading the Predator, Part 1 Safe Selling: Reading the Predator, Part 2 Real Answers How to Show a Vacant Property Safely, Part 1 Dealing with Squatters: Avoiding Confrontation During a Showing Dealing with Squatters: How to Calm an Agitated Person Dealing with Squatters: How to Ask Them to Leave Office Safety: Dealing with Angry Visitors Office Safety: Dealing with Angry Visitors, Part 2 Office Safety: Dealing with Angry Visitors, Part 3 Office Safety: Dealing with Angry Visitors, Part 4 Detecting Thieves Posing as Buyers, Part 1 Detecting Thieves Posing as Buyers, Part 2 Detecting Thieves Posing as Buyers, Part 3 Realtor Safety: Opening a Lockbox and Door Realtor Safety: Navigating Stairs without Making Yourself Vulnerable to Attack Who's Attacking Real Estate Agents? Realtor Safety: Preparing a Home for a Showing Showing Safety: Where to Stand During a Home Tour Showing Safety: Where to Stand During a Home Tour, Part 2
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Office Safety: Dealing with Angry Visitors, Part 4
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Office Safety: Dealing with Angry Visitors, Part 3
So now you know the first two steps (see parts one and two) in dealing with an agitated person who visits your real estate office. You're aware of how to identify an angry person from a distance, and the non-verbal tricks that can help you de-escalate the situation. Now, let's talk about verbal strategy. What do you say to an upset individual to defray a tense situation? Watch this week's episode of "Real Answers" to find out. In the video above, you'll learn: Why validation is key to calming an agitated visitor Sample scripts for validating their feelings Why you need the person to be calm and rational, and how to get them there Next week: Learn the next steps for defusing the situation with your upset office visitor.
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How to Strengthen Security in the Virtual Workplace, Part 2
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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 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. Next week: The verbal strategy to use to defray a tense situation.
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How to Strengthen Security in the Virtual Workplace, Part 1
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Office Safety: Dealing with Angry Visitors
For weeks, we've been sharing strategies that agents can use when faced with an agitated squatter. But what happens when the agitated person is a member of the public--and they're in your office? In this week's episode of Real Answers, brokerages, MLSs and associations will learn what NOT to do when an upset individual enters their office and makes a scene or starts a confrontation. This episode is the first in a series of four that looks at how to handle this potentially dangerous scenario. Next week: Learn what TO DO when confronted by an angry person in your office!
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Dealing with Squatters: How to Ask Them to Leave
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Dealing with Squatters: How to Calm an Agitated Person
So the home you're showing has a squatter, and the squatter not only won't leave the property, but the situation seems to be headed toward a confrontation. What can you do de-escalate the situation? Watch this week's episode of "Real Answers" to find out: The body language to use to show squatters that you're not a threat Why you should validate the squatters feelings, even if you don't agree with them A sample script to use to talk down an agitated squatter Once you've calmed the squatter and de-escalated the situation, it's time to take the next step. What's that? Find out in next week's episode of Real Answers! Next week: How to safely ask a squatter to leave a property.
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Dealing with Squatters: Avoiding Confrontation During a Showing
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How to Show a Vacant Property Safely, Part 1
Vacant properties, while convenient to show, present a host of safety issues for real estate agents. First among those concerns, according to Real Safe Agent CEO Lee Goldstein, is the potential presence of squatters. In this week's episode of "Real Answers," a video series on real estate safety issues, Goldstein shows us how to deal with vacant homes in general and squatters in particular. Watch the video above to learn: What to do before you enter a vacant listing Why it's important to take accompaniment when previewing or showing vacant properties And more! Next week: Be sure to tune in again as we cover Part 2 of how to show vacant listings!
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Safe Selling: Easy Tricks for Navigating Stairs
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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
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Safe Selling: The 'No Influence' Sales Strategy that Deters Predators
Here's something you can teach your agents to try during their next showing: the 'No Influence' sales strategy. It's a showing technique real estate agents can use to protect themselves from potential predators--all while making legitimate prospects feel like a million bucks. From childhood, we're taught to make others comfortable in our presence, and as Realtors, a certain interpersonal ease is important in building a thriving client base. Because of this, too many agents ignore their gut instincts to protect themselves during in-person interactions with new prospects. They fear alienating a prospect by making them uncomfortable. The No Influence technique lets agents seem every inch the gracious guide during a showing. Meanwhile, behind the scenes, this strategy actually allows agents to subtly position themselves in a protective manner during showings. Check out this week's Safe Selling video to learn more about this technique. Watch the video above to: Get a script that agents can use with prospects during the home tour Learn why this technique pleases legit buyers and deflates predators Next week: A quick tip for keeping a safe distance from prospects at a showing—without them noticing.
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Safe Selling: 4 Times Real Estate Agents Should ALWAYS Have a Showing Buddy
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Safe Selling: The 3 Steps Agents Should Take to Prepare a Home for a Showing
What's one thing that your firm's agents should know about staying safe during a showing? Visibility matters. You may have heard the term, "All the world's a stage." Teach your agents to keep this in mind as they're getting a home ready to show. Why? Because if the outside world can see into the home being shown, a predator posing as a buyer is far less likely to attack. After all, we know that predators who target real estate agents want to isolate them so that the agent can't be seen or heard—or the attack interrupted. In this week's Safe Selling episode, find out how increasing visibility into a listing increases the odds of the agent staying safe and even deterring an attack. Watch the video above to learn: The three things agents should do to prepare a listing for maximum safety during a showing Why it's important that neighbors and passersby can see or hear the agent during a showing How doing the three things above help to foil a predator's plan Next week: Learn the four scenarios where a showing buddy is CRITICAL for agent safety.
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Safe Selling: How Agents Can Use Appointment Times to Establish Control
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Safe Selling: New Listing? Here's Why Agents Should Meet the Neighbors
Did you know that there are certain neighborhood and property features that scare off predators? It's true, and in this week's Safe Selling episode, you'll find out what those are. They say information is power, and the more your agents know about the neighborhood their listing is in, the safer they and other agents will be. So, brokers, encourage your agents to knock on doors and meet the neighbors of their new listing. (And, bonus, it's a good way to find potential new business!) Watch the video above to learn: What you should find out about a neighborhood Which neighborhood/property features scare off predators How to seamlessly incorporate the information you've learned into conversation with a prospect What to listen for in a conversation that signals that you may be dealing with a predator Why you should always input the information you've learned about the neighborhood into the showing notes field of your MLS. Next: Learn how you can use the showing appointment time to establish power and control.
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Safe Selling: A Script (and a Trick) for Screening Prospects
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Safe Selling: Why Copying that Driver's License Won't Keep You Safe
The conventional safety procedures that brokers suggest to their agents when meeting new prospects for the first time go something like this: Always verify the prospect's identity and make a copy of their driver's license Always meet them at the office for the first time But do these steps actually protect your agents from a potential predator? In this week's 'Safe Selling' video, we'll learn why these long-held safety truths are actually safety myths. How meeting at the brokerage's office can actually play into a predator's hands Why it's important to meet at a public location first, NOT the listing Why copying a driver's license won't keep agents safe What agents can do if they don't have an available colleague to accompany them on a first showing with a new client One important caveat: We're not saying that agents shouldn't copy a new client's license or meet them at the office (as long as others are there). Instead, agents shouldn't let these actions lull them into a false sense of security—they alone won't deter a predator. Agents should stay vigilant and remember all of the preventative tips we've been sharing in this video series. Stay tuned until next week when reveal an easy phone trick that agents can use to screen prospects!
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Safe Selling: How to Spot Dangerous Red Flags Over the Phone
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Safe Selling: 5 Tips for Staying Safe on Social Media
We've already learned how an agent's profile photo, their language, and their marketing can either attract or repel predators. Today, we're going to find out how to patch a major safety flaw in many real estate agents' marketing: social media. Brokers can share this video with the agents in their office to help them understand what predators looks for when browsing social media profiles in the hunt for their next victim. Watch the video above to learn: How social media posts can add fuel to a predator's fantasy life The #1 rule for staying safe on social media Why you should use a different name and profile photo on your personal and professional accounts How to build a protective "wall" between your professional and personal sides How to prevent predators from cyberstalking you and discovering your personal profile and private family information Stay tuned for next week's episode to learn about red flags to look out for when communicating with a new prospect.
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Future of Online Identity Verification
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Safe Selling: Why Agents Should Avoid Getting Personal in Their Marketing
How can brokers help their agents stay safe? You probably already know all the physical basics, but did you know the way your agents present themselves online can actually deter--or attract--predators? We've already learned how an agent's profile photo and the language they use in their marketing can put off a potential attacker. In today's episode of "Safe Selling," we're deepening that knowledge by exploring what types of marketing information attracts dangerous people, and what repels them. Watch the video above to learn: The difference between personal and professional information Why agents should NEVER include personal information on their website or other marketing channels The personal details that can cause a predator to stalk an agent in person What topics your agents' marketing should focus on instead Tune in next week when we'll learn the ins and outs of social media safety!
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Who Is Covered by CCPA and What Does It Require?
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Safe Selling: How to Avoid Marketing Language That Attracts Predators
Do your brokerage's agents project power in their marketing? It can make the difference between turning off a predator and catching their eye. As we've learned previously, predators often choose their next victim on the internet. Last week, we talked about how agents can use their headshots to project strength and repel a potential attacker. But did you know something as subtle as the language used in agents' marketing can also influence a predator? Predators look for easy targets—those they deem weak or subservient. As with headshots, agents can subconsciously project strength or weakness via the language they use. What kind of language are your agents using? Watch this week's 'Safe Selling' video to learn: The word you should NEVER use in your real estate marketing The phrase you should use instead Why strong language will attract more business while deterring dangerous criminals Tune in next week when we'll dive deeper into how agents can market online while protecting themselves from criminals.
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Safe Selling: How Predators Use Agent Photos to Select Their Next Victim
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Safe Selling: Buyer or a Thief? How to Tell
Is the buyer your agent is showing a home to actually a thief? Do your brokerage's agents know how to tell? Last week, we showed you one common scam, "The Couple's Play," that pairs of thieves use to distract an agent. In this week's episode of "Safe Selling," we're showing other behaviors that agents should look for to identify a likely thief. Share the video above with your agents so they can learn: Why a prospect who 'dust checks' a window may actually be a thief The type of photo a prospect takes that fingers them as a likely thief Why single buyers are more likely to be burglars The type of photo a prospect takes that fingers them as a likely thief Questions to look out for that indicate your prospect may intend to burglarize the home later Tune in next week when we'll learn how an agent's headshot can either attract or drive away potential predators!
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Safe Selling: How to Recognize a Common Scam that Thieves Play
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Safe Selling: The Timeline of a Crime
It's Realtor Safety Month, but safety concerns aren't just for agents in the field. Brokers have an important part to play in not only creating a culture of safety, but in educating agents on how to stay safe. That's why we're running this video series on Realtor safety. Brokers should feel free to share these videos with their office, on their social media, in intra-office communications, and more. In today's episode, we look at the timeline of a crime—which, surprise, happens well before a predator meets an agent in person.  In the previous episode, we learned about the psychology of predators and the emotional cycle that drives them to commit a violent crime. Today, we're learning what that timeline looks like--from the initial selection to the research and fantasy stages all the way up to the attack. By understanding all the "pre-work" that occurs before a predator even contacts an agent, we can devise a plan to reduce the risk of an agent becoming a victim. Stay tuned in the weeks ahead as this "Safe Selling" series continues to find out more about protecting your agents!
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Preventing Real Estate Ransomware
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Hefty Security Breach Fines by the U.K. Under GDPR Regulation
The United Kingdom Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) announced substantial security breach fines on two large companies last week. British Airways and Marriott now are feeling the impact for security breaches of customer information in 2018. The £183.39 million ($230 million) fine for British Airways and its parent company, International Airlines Group (IAG), is a record under the GDPR. Four days later, the U.K. data authority fined Marriott £99 million ($123 million) from a security breach in 2014 that was only found in November 2018.
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The Day I Learned of a Chilling Plot to Digitally Censor My Voice
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Fail First Approach to Cybersecurity Is Costly
Failing is a natural part of learning. When failure occurs, the opportunity to learn is critical in building knowledge. A fail first mentality towards the cybersecurity of systems and data, however, is not a learning experience. It is a disaster. We have three tips for starting a journey to learn techniques to prevent and recover from a ransomware attack.
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Office Safety: Dealing with Angry Visitors, Part 4
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Office Safety: Dealing with Angry Visitors, Part 3
So now you know the first two steps (see parts one and two) in dealing with an agitated person who visits your real estate office. You're aware of how to identify an angry person from a distance, and the non-verbal tricks that can help you de-escalate the situation. Now, let's talk about verbal strategy. What do you say to an upset individual to defray a tense situation? Watch this week's episode of "Real Answers" to find out. In the video above, you'll learn: Why validation is key to calming an agitated visitor Sample scripts for validating their feelings Why you need the person to be calm and rational, and how to get them there Next week, we'll explore the next steps in defusing the situation with your upset office visitor. Stay tuned!  
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Office Safety: Dealing with Angry Visitors, Part 2
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Office Safety: Dealing with Angry Visitors
For weeks, we've been sharing strategies that agents can use when faced with an agitated squatter. But what happens when the agitated person is a member of the public--and they're in your office? In this week's episode of Real Answers, brokerages, MLSs and associations will learn what NOT to do when an upset individual enters their office and makes a scene or starts a confrontation. This episode is the first in a series of four that looks at how to handle this potentially dangerous scenario. Tune in next week to learn what TO DO when confronted by an angry person in your office!    
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Friday Freebie: The Only Guide You'll Ever Need on Agent Safety
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A Broker's Guide to Cybersecurity: Part 3
In the past two installments of "A Broker's Guide to Cybersecurity" (here and here), we looked at some quick and easy strategies to lock your virtual doors against intruders. Now let's open that dreaded IT closet. It's that room in the office where you have those loud computers and all those wires. Go ahead and step in. There are two devices in here that I want to talk to you about: your server(s) and your firewall.
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When Hackers Attack: The Broker's Guide to DDoS
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GDPR and Its Effect on the US Real Estate Industry
How is the General Data Protection Regulation, passed in the EU, affecting us in real estate here in the US? Get a closer look at the measures abroad and in the states to protect users' privacy. Scott Petronis, Chief Product and Technology Officer at eXp Realty, moderated a discussion — "GDPR and Its Effect in the US" — with Scott Lockhart, CEO at Showcase IDX, and Marinda Neumann, Managing Attorney at Lotus Law Center, APC at Inman Connect's Hacker Connect in New York 2019. To see the full discussion, watch the video below: TL;DR GDPR applies to any agent, broker or real estate marketing pro that works with European citizens. The upcoming California Consumer Protection Act (CCPA) will be closer to home and affect agents and brokers more directly. While there is a "stick" in the law, there is a huge opportunity for Realtors and brokers that successfully meet consumers' needs and desire for privacy. Listen to the discussion for more details. Speaker Bios Scott Lockhart: A serial entrepreneur known for building innovative companies and considered one of the top real estate privacy experts in the world. Previous CTO of RE/MAX Greater Atlanta, with over $4.5B in yearly sales. He has consulted with national brands in the retail, real estate and mortgage industries, including Lowe's Home Improvement, Wells Fargo, Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, Wachovia Bank and some of the top 20 residential real estate brokerages. Marinda Neumann: Marinda is the managing attorney at Lotus Law Center, APC. Her firm represents multiple listing services and associations providing transactional and policy counsel. The firm also provides legal services to real estate professionals, vendors, and service providers, individuals, and businesses with a focus in contract, business law, data privacy and security, technology and data licensing, copyright, and trademark. Prior to becoming an attorney Marinda served in the U.S. Navy as a Cryptologic Technician, she worked within the Department of Defense (DOD) for over ten years and possesses an extensive background in software and computer technology, with an emphasis on data security. Scott Petronis: As eXp Realty's Chief Product and Technology Officer, Scott leads the delivery of strategic agent-centric solutions that power the company's business and rapidly growing agent base. Scott has more than 20 years of experience in delivering software and SaaS products for businesses and consumers. For more than six years, Scott has been a fixture in industry technology initiatives through his work with the Real Estate Standards Organization (RESO), including leading the Web API initiative as the Chair of the Transport Workgroup. In that role, he drove agreement on a new standard that allows companies to more rapidly innovate solutions for the real estate industry. Click here to read a transcript of the talk.
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eXp Realty Launches Safety Check for Workplace by Facebook
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This Website Is Not Secure!
Over the last few weeks, we have been researching web traffic for 177 of the most productive brokerages in sales volume and sides. While we are still diving deep into the study, there was one stat that gave me grave concern--the number of broker websites that are not secure for a customer to login or to complete a form. Securing information between a person who completes a registration or property inquiry form and then sends it to a website's server is achieved when you see the HTTPS before the web address. Example: https://www.WAVGroup.com – Communication between person browsing and the website server is secure http://www.WAVGroup.com – Communication between person browsing and the website server is NOT secure. Today, we do not even consider launching a website—with or without forms—without applying HTTPS website security. For years, Google has been pushing webmasters to apply HTTPS to secure websites. While this method has been a longtime practice, most companies were not adhering to it if their site did not have an e-commerce payment feature. That is, until Google started to highlight non-secure websites as "Not Secure" in Chrome back in July of 2018. Nowadays, the majority of web browsers display non-secure websites to people. During our research, we exposed that almost 25 percent of the 177 websites in the study were non-secured websites. These are websites from brokerages who are productivity leaders in sales volume, or sides, or both. Websites that included features like subscribing to a newsletter, submitting a property inquiry with a showing request, or a site registration and login form. Scary! Non-secure websites are open A simple scenario of creating a new username and password on a non-secure website makes it easy for others to see it. When the submit button is pushed, the browser sends the information to the website's hosting server in a form that is as readable as this article. There are plenty of tools to capture the communication into a file and query it to find the information. Unsecured Wi-Fi hotspots like in airports, restaurants, and public places make it easier for the bad guys to capture non-secured communication with these tools. Open hot spots make it imperative to secure websites to protect the consumer's privacy and security, leverage search engine optimization, and preserve the company's brand image. Consumers Privacy and Security The EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 (CCPA), and the discussions in the U.S. Congress on new federal regulation policy state that any compromise of a person's personal or private information must be disclosed. It will be difficult to remediate any violations of these laws when a company maintains non-secured websites. An item to note: While CCPA's accountability to the law is limited to only big companies, the U.S. House and Senate hearing was inclusive for every company and preemptive to state law. The federal government is reviewing how to align data security with a privacy policy. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Search engines have been saying since 2014 that one signal they use for ranking websites is if they are using HTTPS. Google previously stated usage of HTTPS as a ranking signal is part of their algorithm. For these reasons, over the past few months, we've been running tests taking into account whether sites use secure, encrypted connections as a signal in our search ranking algorithms. We've seen positive results, so we're starting to use HTTPS as a ranking signal. Should we be concerned about this since Zillow, Realtor.com, and Trulia are winning this war? I absolutely think it makes a difference for longtail searches. These sometimes include typing in a property address or performing a search for "home for sale in X neighborhood for $250k." Company's brand image This one upsets me. Brand is extremely important to a company, and having a web browser say "Not Secure" is making a negative brand impression on the consumer. Let's take a look. Chrome: Here is an example when accessing a non-secure website in Chrome. When the consumer clicks on the information circle next to Not Secure, the following message is delivered. Brand message: We want your business, but we don't care enough to protect you from the bad guys! The next example shows how a secured website is treated by Chrome. The consumer is presented with a lock icon next to the URL address. All is okay with this company! Firefox: When accessing a non-secure website, Firefox only displays the information circle. But, look at what is displayed when the consumer clicks on the site. I like how Firefox displays a secured website. They present a bold green lock next to the web address. This aligns and signals the dedication of a brand that is concerned about my security and privacy. Safari: Apple's treatment of a secured website only displays a little lock next to the web address. It is okay, but nothing really bold. Apple's lack of treat treatment on non-secure websites is a little disheartening. As a consumer, you only know when the website is secured. I guess Apple thinks people are more aware of their browsing habits. Brave Browser: If you like a browser to test for SEO and easily select ad and tracking blockers, try Brave Browser. It has become a go-to for surfing the web. Brave treats non-secured websites similar to Firefox. A big red "Not Secure." Click on the Not Secure and the message is loud and clear: Summary All your website assets need to be set up with HTTPS. The cost to implement is minimal compared with not having the proper security in place to protect people, losing out on longtail SEO, and jeopardizing the company's brand with consumers. It all matters in today's business world. There really isn't any excuse for having a non-secure website. If your team is too busy, call us. We'll handle this for you and make the necessary phones calls to get the job done. One more item to check off your "to-do" list. To view the original article, visit the WAV Group blog.
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Privacy Regulation for Everyone Coming Soon
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Google Flags Websites that Are Not HTTPS as Not Secure
It's for your clients. It's for your security. It's for Google. Our team heard "rumblings" as early as two years ago from Google strongly "advocating" website owners move to HTTPS encryption to make the Internet secure and protect the privacy of your users. If you have not yet acquired an SSL certificate, you may have already noticed Google has flagged your website as "Not Secure" in Chrome.
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4 Key Questions to Ask about Cloud Data Security
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Data Privacy: Everyday Best Practices to Remember
Today, the world recognizes Data Privacy Day. As privacy protection concerns and privacy laws around the world, such as Europe's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and California's incoming digital privacy law (the California Consumer Privacy Act), continue to build, we are reminded to be more mindful of data privacy, safeguarding data, and enabling trust. Let us mark this day by increasing our awareness of data privacy and considering key data privacy practices in our everyday work. Here are some best practices around maintaining privacy and enabling trust to keep in mind and share with your colleagues.
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How the FBI Foiled a Wire Transfer Scam
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How to Connect to a Computer Remotely
If you ever find yourself needing to access a computer remotely--either attempting to connect to a desktop computer at work or need to assist someone with their computer from afar--this primer is for you. Whether you have a Microsoft Windows PC or an Apple Mac, let's take a look at the basics you'll need to know.
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Safe Selling: Understanding How a Predator Thinks
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Safe Selling: Predators vs. Thieves
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! September is Realtor Safety Month, and we're kicking things off with a multi-part video series on safe selling. In this first video, you'll learn about the difference between the two different types of criminals you're most likely to encounter--predators and thieves. Why is this important to learn? Well, according to video host Lee Goldstein of Real Safe Agent, "The more you understand about the type of criminals you could potentially run into, especially predators, then the more you understand how to prevent yourself from being targeted in the first place." This knowledge can also empower you to discourage interest if you are targeted, and "turn off" the predatory instinct of criminals. In this week's video, you'll learn the differences between predators and thieves in regards to: The types of crimes each commits Motive Their decision making process Attractors Their preferred environment for committing a crime Watch the video above to learn more about each criminal type and how to protect yourself from them. Then, tune in next week for our next installment of Safe Selling!
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Showing Safety: Where to Stand During a Home Tour, Part 2
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Clearing the Air: Cloud Security for Real Estate Brokerages
When you upload a document to the cloud, what do you imagine? It's not easy to envision where that document went; the idea of a cloud almost makes you think it goes up into the air like a wisp of smoke, up to where the clouds are floating—out in the open, where anybody can see it. That can be a scary image when we're talking about key personal information. The thing is, though, that isn't the reality of cloud storage.
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Showing Safety: Where to Stand During a Home Tour
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Phishing in Real Estate and Recruiting Experience
Phishing in Real Estate A key practice to protect yourself and your customers from scammers and hackers is education. When I was asked by Janet Sowers of the Realtor Association of Sarasota and Manatee (RASM) to present at a session on "Beware of the Phish! Wire Fraud in Real Estate Transactions," there was only one response. Phishing? Absolutely, YES!
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Realtor Safety: Preparing a Home for a Showing
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Realtor Safety: Navigating Stairs without Making Yourself Vulnerable to Attack
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! We're continuing our new video series of safety tips for agents in the field. Last month, we learned how to open a door and lockbox without being vulnerable to potentially dangerous prospects. Today, we turn our attention to safety tips inside a home during a showing--how to safely navigate stairs. Julie and Lee with Real Safe Agent point out that the conventional wisdom--allowing your prospect to go all the way up the stairs before you follow them--is wrong. Why? Because it gives prospects ample time to turn a corner out of your line of sight and potentially get into an ambush position. How should you climb a staircase instead? Watch the short video above for more information and a demonstration. Tune in next time for more agent safety tips!    
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Who's Attacking Real Estate Agents?
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Realtor Safety: Opening a Lockbox and Door
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-person showings are fraught with potential dangers for real estate agents. So how can agents stay safe on the job? Today, we're introducing a weekly video series that shows agents all the subtle things they need to know to stay safe on the job--while still presenting themselves as a friendly professional. In this week's video, Realtor Jason Ralston of Conway Real Estate demonstrates how to open a lockbox or property door without turning your back on your prospect--a vulnerable position for Realtors alone in the field. Watch this short video to learn: How to subtly position yourself while chatting up your client in a friendly manner How to deal with tricky situations, like homes with an outside door that swings out and an inside door that swings in How to stay safe while treating your client in a warm, welcoming way If you found this video helpful, please share it with your colleagues--and be sure to tune in next week for more Realtor safety tips!
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Three Stories for You to Read: Amazon, Cybersecurity, App Dev
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Essential Tips for Protecting Client Data
With the number of data breaches increasing, it's essential now more than ever that all businesses take steps to protect customer data. The proactive approach is always preferable to reacting to a preventable disaster, which could cost a firm its reputation, clients, and money. Learn how to protect client information with a few solid tips to keep your customers happy and your business secure.
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A Broker's Guide to Cybersecurity: Part 2
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GDPR Playing Havoc in the EU
It's only been a week since GDPR has become a law and we need to start this week's discussion with a simple question. How many of you thought the GDPR was only about privacy policy change emails and subscription notifications we have received over the last few weeks? Well, that was just the beginning.
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A Brokers Guide to Cybersecurity
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How Europe's New Personal Data Rule Impacts Real Estate
General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) compliance crisscrosses every business in the real estate industry. Yes, it's another acronym and it is not tech driven. Well, almost not tech driven. Citizens from countries outside of the US are serious about protecting their personal privacy. Every time I've had data conversations with my European colleagues, they constantly stress how important it is to protect personal information. While an important concern for us, most US citizens and companies are fairly indifferent on who we give access to our personal information. What happens with our personal data afterward is entirely out of our control. We only hope it is secure from access by hackers – meaning those who steal data and misuse it for personal gain. As we saw recently with Facebook and Cambridge Analytica – just like our EU colleagues – maybe US citizens should request to have more control over their personal data in the digital world. To learn more about GDPR and its impact, read "How Europe's New Personal Data Rule Impacts Real Estate" white paper.
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10 Questions to Ask Your Tech Vendor About Your Data
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WAV Group Systems Audits and Integration
We are excited to have David Gumpper on the team here at WAV Group. Since joining our firm, he has been actively supporting our brokerage, MLS, and technology clients with a wide variety of systems audits and systems integrations. System Audits System audits come in a few forms at WAV Group. The first audit is a Security Audit. As you are aware, many firms collect personally identifiable information that must be kept safe and sound from hackers. These projects start with an overview of a firm's security policy. Strangely, we did not have much of an appreciation for the number of firms that do not have a security policy in place. If you do not have one in place, we can help you construct one. The next step is to evaluate your systems for compliance with your security policy. Understanding the holes in your security policy is the first step to mitigation of risk. Many of the security vulnerabilities can be easily patched; some require more work and thought. If you have not had a security assessment in a while, it's a good idea to have a checkup.
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All Computers and Servers at Risk from Spectre and Meltdown
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Can Blockchain Restore Trust in Real Estate Transactions?
Why are we even talking about trust in real estate transactions? In a poll of 1,147 adults, 67.5 percent of Americans reported that they do not trust real estate agents. This poll, sponsored by Choice Home Warranty, and released by Google Consumer Surveys in October 2013, rated real estate agents just slightly higher than journalists, who were not trusted by 74 percent of respondents. Based on a Gallup poll in 2012, real estate agents are trusted roughly as well as bankers and chiropractors. An August 1, 2016 post on Houwzer.com reported that the level of mistrust was nearly 73 percent for those between 18-24 years old. Houwzer, of course, has a personal stake in this discussion. Their agents are on salary, which they find supports trust more than commissions. But that does not negate the data.
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Why You Should Use HTTPS for a Safe and Secure Site
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Can You Get Protection Against Cyber Fraud?
Why Cyber Insurance? With the costs associated with running a business continuing to escalate, additional expenses are hard to justify. Cyber insurance is one of those costs most businesses will gamble on and decide to throw the dice to remove it from the expense sheet. A PWC white paper says that cyber insurance premiums will reach $7.5 billion dollars by 2020. It further says that "cyber-crime costs the global economy more the $400 billion dollars a year." This is big money and it will only continue to intensify over time. When evaluating the risk associated with systems being compromised by brute force and phishing attacks, cyber insurance can mitigate cost exposure for a business. Remember, it is no longer if, but when your system will be compromised.
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Stay Safe When You Use Drone Photography and Honor Others' Privacy
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Phishing: Preventing the Bait and Hook in the Pond of Security for Brokers
Remember a time when a fishing rod, some bait, and a lake was all that was needed for a quiet afternoon of relaxation and fun? Today, we need to deal with a different kind of "phishing." This phishing has gone wild in the digital world and has become the preferred method by the bad guys of obtaining easy access to your corporate email platform. Access to a wealth of desirable information that includes transactional information, wire-transfer directions, and personal identifiable information (PII) of your agents, staff and customers. The question becomes, "How can I protect my brokerage from becoming a victim of phishing scams?"
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Which Brokerage Intranet Solution is Right for You? (Part 2)
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Which Brokerage Intranet Solution is Right for You? (Part 1)
Gone are the days when the brokerage itself was the physical hub of agents' activities. Thanks to mobile apps and cloud-based solutions, agents are able to access everything they need from the field or their home office. That said, if the various apps your firm offers are unconnected from each other, it can result in both disorganization and low agent adoption of your solutions. One of the best ways to cure this mess is by setting up an office intranet—accessible from anywhere—that your agents can use to download files, access software, and see announcements and other communications. But which intranet solution is right for your company? Well, we highlighted two big intranet players in our 2017-18 Technology Guide, and today we'll take a closer look at one, DASH! for Brokers from Clareity. (Stay tuned tomorrow when we look at the second solution, WOLFconnect!)
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Zillow Protects Broker Data
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Home Office Security: What Every Business Owner Should Know
Running a business from home is a dream for many people. Your home office is more relaxed than a typical corporate office, but your security plans shouldn't be. An in-home burglary occurs every 15 seconds, according to a report from entrepreneur.com. That statistic becomes even scarier when you think about the valuable equipment, documents and otherwise that are sitting in your home office every day. Here's what you need to know about securing your home office, reducing the chances of a break-in.
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The IRS Warns Against These Tax Scams
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REALTOR® Safety Webinar: Get Smart about Smart Homes and Your Safety (9/14)
Wednesday, September 14, 2016 at 11:00 AM PDT Being safe starts at home, and by now we're familiar with most of the usual safety measures homeowners take - deadbolts, window locks, even basic security systems. But, in this brave new world of technology, what about smart home devices? What do you, as REALTORS®, need to know about these devices to best inform and protect your clients? What do you need to know for yourself to ensure your own safety? You may learn some things that open your eyes, and you'll definitely walk away with knowledge you can start using immediately. Register now!
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[Video] It's Your Business, It's Your Data!
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Groundbreaking Agent Safety Class and Study Announced
Austin-based Real Safe Agent is providing the student and instructor guide of their new Realtor Safety course to agents, brokers, associations, and Multiple Listing Services free of charge. The training material is uniquely effective because it's based on criminology and predator profiling. "This info is the first I've seen that is realistic," said Elizabeth Cooper-Golden, broker/owner of @Homes Realty Group in Huntsville, AL. "I appreciate it so much." "Because this class could prevent an agent from being a victim, this is something you make free to all; not something for which you charge money," said Wes Wiggins, VP Industry Relations for Real Safe Agent. The materials are available for free on RE Technology and at the company's website. The class was developed by Real Safe Agent's CEO, Lee Goldstein, and based on his own experience working with violent predators, as well as studies by noted researchers like Lawrence Cohen, Marcus Felson, Kim Rossmo and Ronald Clarke. "Our goal was to provide agents with practical knowledge of how to make their marketing, themselves, the properties, and showings as unattractive as possible to a predator without sacrificing attractiveness to a legitimate buyer," said Lee Goldstein, CEO of Real Safe Agent. The intent of making the student guide and the instructor guide freely available is to allow MLSs, associations, and brokers to teach the class on their own without having to pay third parties. To help those who wish to use the class within their organization or association, the company will also be providing train-the-trainer classes at no charge. To make arrangements for a Train-the-Trainer class, the company asks that people contact them through the "Contact Us" page on their website.
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Cyber Security: How Brokerages Can Protect Themselves
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10 Mobile Security Questions Brokers Should Be Asking
Did you know that nearly half of mobile apps on any given device have at least one major security vulnerability that threatens sensitive data? This is dangerous for real estate professionals who handle sensitive client information every day--often accessing this data from cloud-based solutions on mobile devices like smartphones or tablets. It's not just the devices themselves that expose this information to exposure--more often, it's user activity and behavior. A study by mobile security company NowSecure revealed that: 43% of smartphones don't have a password, PIN or pattern lock 50% connect to unsecured WiFi at least once a month 48% of mobile apps on any given device have at least one major security vulnerability that either leaks sensitive data or allows unauthorized access to sensitive data Brokers looking to protect their data from exposure can start by training agents on mobile security best practices, how to minimize the risks of public Wi-Fi, combating mobile malware. In addition, brokers can ask the following 10 questions, suggested by the security experts at NowSecure, to assess the risk to their data: 1. Do the apps that you've purchased or developed follow best practices for security? 2. Do you have visibility into the security of the mobile devices impacting your organization? 3. Is mobile security testing part of your app's development?
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Sex Offender Poses as a Fake Buyer in This Bizarre Home Showing
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Data Security is the Law
Most cybercrime experts say it isn't "if" your data will be breached, it's "when." And real estate brokers must understand that securing data isn't just good business practice — it's the law. Today, 47 states have data security and private protection laws on the books to safeguard consumers and businesses when breaches occur (Washington, D.C., Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands also have laws). Melanie Wyne, senior technology policy representative at the National Association of REALTORS®, says these state laws typically explain what constitutes a breach, how businesses or organizations should notify their clients when a breach happens, and whether there are any exemptions to the law. These laws also describe what kinds of personal information must be secured, such as social security numbers, driver's license numbers, and financial account information. Wyne says the laws may vary but that there is one common denominator: "What's true for all the state laws is that they require having encryption on any personal data." According to the Electronic Privacy Information Center, Massachusetts' data breach notification law is one of the most comprehensive in the country. It establishes minimum standards that any person, agency, or entity that owns or licenses personal information on Massachusetts' residents must meet and requires the implementation of "a comprehensive information security program." Some of the other requirements include security training for employees, secure storage, protocols for strong user authentication, prevention of terminated employees from accessing records containing personal information, and annual reviews of the scope of security measures.
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9 Ways to Keep Data Secure
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Groundbreaking Real Estate Agent Safety Study Announced
Real Safe Agent, an Austin based company, has retained the WAV Group to conduct comprehensive research into agent safety. The study will involve interviewing agents who have been victims of crimes and convicted felons who have committed crimes against real estate agents, as well as quantitative data collected from thousands of general safety survey results. "If we can identify specific circumstances, behaviors, and patterns that predators use to target and lure real estate agents then we can prevent the crime from occurring," said Lee Goldstein, CEO of Real Safe Agent. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there has been a 300 percent increase in violent crime against professionals selling or leasing real estate since 2006. Previous safety research primarily used surveys to collect quantitative data about the opinions and habits of real estate agents regarding safety. This study differs from others in that it will collect qualitative data from victims and perpetrators. Additionally, the purpose of the research represents a paradigm shift in the real estate industry from "reaction" to "prevention." Marilyn Wilson, founding partner of WAV Group, said, "We now have the opportunity to uncover new information that could help save someone's life. I can't imagine any more meaningful or important work."
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4 Cyber Scams Targeting Brokerages
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Stay Ahead of Hackers
During the economic downturn, real estate pros were on high alert for scams by perpetrators who preyed on cash-strapped home owners desperate to stave off foreclosure. Today, a new wave of scammers is breaking into people's e-mail accounts to cull information about pending deals. The hackers—posing as sellers, title company representatives, or even other real estate agents—instruct buyers, agents, or attorneys to transfer funds related to the purchase to accounts belonging to the scammers, potentially swindling victims out of sizable sums. In addition, agents lately have been the target of ruses involving overseas cash "buyers" who ask for bank account information so they can supposedly wire deposits. Whatever the technique, hackers are finding ways to trick buyers, sellers, and practitioners by e-mail or phone to hand over large amounts of money. In many cases, the heists could have been prevented if the victim had verified that the instructions were legitimate before proceeding. "For anyone involved in real estate transactions, the key is vigilance and making sure that what is happening should be happening," says Peter Bolac, trust account compliance counsel for the North Carolina State Bar, which has received multiple reports of fraud involving wired funds in real estate transactions, including one involving a loss of $200,000. "Everyone involved in handling [transactions] has a duty to be sure their accounts are secure" and the procedures they follow include safeguards to protect clients. Hacking incidents, sometimes referred to as "spear phishing," have disrupted transactions in a number of states, including California, New Jersey, and North Carolina.
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A Tech's Tale of a Real Life Schemer: The Fake Microsoft Scam Running Amok on Us All
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2015 Data Storage: Your Security Role
Brokers, coordinators, assistants, and agents all have responsibilities to keep data secure. Are you doing everything you could be to protect your clients? We combed through the National Association of REALTORS®' Data Privacy & Security Toolkit to bring you these tips. Brokers Make sure you have up-to-date policies on how to handle the storage, retention, and destruction of documents, databases, and e-mails. Ensure that everyone involved in your business receives regular training on the policies. Ask your lawyer to look over your policies to make sure you're in line with any and all privacy and data laws that have jurisdiction over your operations. Make sure employees and independent contractors understand that abiding by your company's data security program is an essential part of their duties. Provide employees and agents with data security training before granting them access to personal data. Strictly limit access to data. Know which employees/agents have access to personal information, and make sure anyone with access has a "legitimate business need" for the data. Have a procedure in place for ensuring that workers who leave your brokerage no longer have access to personal information. Make sure you know all the computers or servers where personally identifiable information is stored, and who has access to those computers and servers. Also, identify all connections to those computers/servers (via mobile devices, branch offices, etc.) and assess the vulnerability of each connection. If your agents or employees can use mobile devices to connect to your network or to transmit personal information, make sure they have password protections on their devices.
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Online, Safety Is Your 'Social Responsibility'
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Your Guide to Warding Off Cybercriminals: 7 Top Tips To Keep Your Data Safe Right Now
Despite significant advancements in security and data protection, hackers and cyber criminals linger around to pounce on open vulnerabilities. A stray password scribbled on paper or free-for-all public computer are any hacker's playground and too often people make the mistake of letting their 'data' guard down. The results are far from pretty. With more and more of our world online, we all hold accounts and passwords across a variety of sites and platforms; while our paperless transition certainly streamlines business processes, we need to be cognizant where and how we're fanning out our data in the digital world. While the best companies and systems, like DocuSign, have your back with bank-class and carrier grade security, you still need to take proactive steps to ensure that everything is locked down on your end. Given the frequency of the recent hacks and attacks, please keep a note of the following tips and tricks that will keep you safe: Keep operating systems and application patches up-to-date Install a trusted anti-malware suite and configure automatic updates Use different passwords for each website, online service and platform – Do not write these down in an insecure location Don't click on links in emails from untrusted senders
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Turn Your iPod, iPhone, or iPad into a Security Camera with the "Presence" App
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5 Tips to Protect Your Smartphone From Hackers
Hackers recently released thousands of private Snapchat pictures from users around the world. What makes this leak particular scary is Snapchat is suppose to delete messages seconds after they are viewed by the recipient. This further proves to never let your defenses down when it comes to protecting yourself online, even when using your smartphone. Here are some practical safety tips when conducting business with your smartphone. Tune out Hackers can access your data even when you're not directly using your phone through things like Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Near Field Communication, and mobile data settings. Turn these settings off when you're not using them to limit access by unwanted guests. Make sure to check app settings because some programs will turn on these settings automatically. Phones get sick, too You know those phony emails asking for private information that gives your computer viruses? Those viruses can affect your smartphone, as well. They install applications on your phone that can give hackers access to your personal information, including your geographical location. Be wary of anything attempting to install software on your phone, especially from companies you do not recognize. Always make sure your permissions are set so that you have to manually OK all apps from installing. This can save your from any unexpected surprises.
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8 Safety Tips and Tools for Avoiding Tragedy
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Who Owns Your Consumer After the Close?
...And why isn't it you? It's no secret that most agents do a pretty horrendous job of keeping in touch with the consumer post-close. Knowing this and talking to clients about this issue for the past several years got me thinking about the typical homeownership lifecycle and who owns the consumer during the eight or so years between moves. Let's break it down: Not looking to make a move (approximately six years) During this time, unless someone from the brokerage has kept themselves front and center when it comes to the consumer's investment in, most likely, their largest asset, who are they talking to? Home improvement retailers and contractors, their HOA, interior designers, utilities, etc. Probably no agents or real estate companies in site. Thinking about making a move (12-18 months) My latest move was last August (from Atlanta to Miami). However, my wife and I started researching neighborhoods, etc. in December 2011--over 18 months before we actually closed. Our initial research was on Zillow, Trulia, and Realtor.com. We tried to talk to a couple of agents, but since we were not "hot" prospects, we were dropped pretty much right away. I don't recall looking at any local sites. Another year plus went by without a brokerage or one of their agents involved with us. I don't think our behavior is that uncommon, do you?
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