This article was originally published with Estate Agent Today on 25th May 2021.
After a recent incident involving an Estate Agent based in Devon in which a property virtual tour they published revealed a startling amount of their client’s personal information, market attention has been focused on security and personal data in relation to technology-led marketing tools, such as virtual tours, which are capable of capturing extensive detail within a space.
Under the UK General Data Protection Regulation Estate Agents are deemed as the Data Controller and therefore responsible for protecting the privacy of their customers’ data. Estate Agents using virtual tours need to ensure that this kind of security breach does not happen and at the same time protect their business from potential law enforcement or reputational damage.
Estate Agents who choose to produce virtual tours in-house, where a vendor or the agency staff create the tour themselves are more vulnerable to data security breaches, as they are often less experienced to spot and prevent potential exposure. Likewise, if the Agent outsources the virtual tour to a self-employed or freelance provider, they should take into consideration whether appropriate measures are in place to provide data protection, or if any extra time is required to deliver security checks. Working with a larger established service provider, who have more resource and experience is probably the safest option, as security protocols should already be in place.
Before choosing to work with any third-party, Agents should carry out their own due diligence on the provider to find out what safeguarding processes are in place to prevent data security incidents. Good service providers will take precautionary measures, such as issuing property preparation guidelines to homeowners prior to a photography shoot. Not only should this include hints and tips on how to prepare the property, removing clutter, personal and valuable items, but it should also request that the homeowner put away anything that could lead to a breach of their personal data, items such as bank statements and bills, or medication and prescriptions.
At CoreLogic data security is in our DNA and integral to everything we do, we take a 3-step process to give our clients’ peace of mind, that their customers are in safe hands. It starts at the initial appointment booking, where we issue out clear property preparation guidance, including measures to protect personal data. Secondly, we employ professionally trained and experienced virtual tour photographers, who carry out visual checks on the day, before commencing with the photography shoot. Finally, our creative team will always ensure that any personally identifiable items that might have been unavoidably captured, such as family portraits are obscured (faces blurred) before the final virtual tour is published. The result is a polished, professional, and de-personalised “data safe” virtual property tour.
Don’t get caught out and keep your customers personal data protected!