Take steps today to protect yourself, your business and your clients from these silent and malicious thieves. And make sure to tell your clients how you protect their information and their transaction and give them tips to protect themselves as well.
Use best business practices with your data at all times. In your office, make sure everyone follows formal policies for ensuring data security. Here are some tips to get you started:
- Create unique logins and passwords for your online accounts. Use an algorithm or online password generators to help you create stronger passwords. Keep the passwords secure in an app or program and never save them to your computer. Change them regularly.
- Never use free WiFi to conduct business.
- Avoid using free email account services for business. Clean out your email account regularly. Store important emails on your hard drive.
- Create an office-wide document retention policy. Store documents in a secure, locked location. If several people have keys to your office, make sure file cabinets and drawers are kept locked. ID theft can happen anywhere. Do not store documents longer than necessary, especially those with personal information. Destroy documents that are no longer needed.
- Use an email encryption program whenever sending confidential information.
- Never trust contact information in unverified emails. Do not click on links and do not reply to emails that look suspicious.
- Educate your clients on how to properly send wire transfers. Have them call the intended recipient before wiring funds and have them verify wiring instructions. If wiring instructions are sent by email, have your client still call to verify as scammers are getting very good at sending fake instructions in order to misdirect funds. If a money wire has gone out with the wrong information, immediately contact the bank to try and stop the funds and immediately notify all affected parties.
- If you do find that your data has been breached, contact any parties who might have been impacted, call the police, talk to an attorney and report the breach to the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center: http://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx.
Remember, cybercrime is no joke and it is here to stay. Do your best to protect yourself and your clients. For more information, visit the NAR page about realtor safety here and join us on October 20 for the popular REALTOR Safety Matters class to learn more about protecting both your physical and virtual safety.