Agents need to protect themselves from the growing data breach crisis during virtual tours, warns The Guild of Property Professionals.
It reports a small, but increasing number of consumer complaints about the inclusion of personal or sensitive data in marketing material as agents are increasingly promoting virtual experiences for buyers.
The Guild says that during a virtual tours or video, personal data might inadvertently be captured on film, such as a document stuck on a fridge, papers left on a coffee table, personal photographs, or car registration numbers in photos.
“With the advancement of technology, people can zoom in and see every little detail, something agents would not have had to think about before the inception of the virtual environment the sector finds itself in,” says Guild compliance officer Paul Offley.
“It is important to be aware of the danger of these potential data leaks and protect clients as much as possible.”
This was evident earlier this year when the BBC revealed that a virtual tour uploaded to Rightmove by a Dartmoor estate agency included unblurred pictures of private financial documents and family photographs belonging to the owner, which identity thieves could easily use.
Chagford-based Fowlers admitted that the usual blurring of photographs and other material clearly visible in the tour had ‘slipped past’ both its staff and the owner.
Offley (pictured) advises agents to take a few simple steps that will prevent a potential complaint against an agent and protect their client’s personal information from being shared: thoroughly check the room before any photographs or filming takes place; ask the seller what they don’t want included – when they approve any brochure or marketing material add a sentence to get them to confirm they have checked all photographs and video; try using software to identify and blur out personal or sensitive data.