There are so many regulations to be wary of when it comes to protecting the personal information of your buyers. Laws govern the licensing and conduct of agents. The Information Commissioners Office recently warned organisations that they should be doing everything they can to keep the personal data of customers safe, as more consumers become resigned to the fact that their private information is being collected by private firms. Here’s what you need to know about the Privacy Act and the best ways to protect precious customer data.
Does the Privacy Act cover real estate agents?
The Privacy Act covers businesses with an annual turnover of more than $3 million, and that usually includes most real estate agents. If the real estate agency operates a Residential Tenancy Database, even if the business itself is not covered, the agency will be covered by the Privacy Act in regards to the operation of the Tenancy Database.
What personal details are safe to collect?
A real estate agent cannot collect more information than is necessary. That means, you can only collect the personal information of clients that is reasonably necessary for your activities or functions. You are also not allowed to simply collect information because you think it may come in handy in the future. Clients are not required to provide your business with their personal information, however, you should explain that in refusing to provide personal information, you may not be able to provide the products and/or services requested.
You will need to notify your client of why you are collecting their personal information, as well as any consequences if they do not provide said personal information. Further, you should be able to tell them who you would usually disclose it to, and inform them that not only can they access their own personal information, but they are in control of their personal information, and can complain about their management of their personal information if they feel it to be mishandled.
What’s the best way to protect my clients’ data?
There are many steps you can implement to ensure the safety of your clients’ data. To start, consider training all employees to be cautious of unusual emails, and ensure that your agency has effective network and email protection that filters out dangerous files such as malware or spam. If your agency does decide to move to the cloud, the ability to encrypt data, both in the cloud and also during transfer, is essential. Keeping sensitive records un-encrypted is always risky. At Plezzel, we will always ensure professional, secure and safe management of clients’ personal information. That’s why we promise that when it comes to Customer Data, Plezzel will never pass on, or sell data to third parties, without explicit permission of the enquirer and our clients. To read more ways businesses can protect Customer Data, read our blog, ‘5 Ways to Protect Precious Customer Data’.
Because this blog avoids the use of legal language, information about the law may have been expressed in general statements. This article should not be relied upon as a substitute for the Conveyancers Act 2006, the Estate Agents Act 1980, the Sale of Land Act 1962 or professional legal advice.