Real Estate’s Stake In Digital Security
As a real estate or mortgage professional, you help families with one of their biggest life purchases – their home. In doing so, you Tokenize ’re privy to some of the most private and personal information of those buying and selling homes.
The information handled often contains:
Social Security Numbers
Past Year’s Tax Files
List of All Debts and Assets
Each of which, is a piece of personal information that can easily lead to identity theft, if misused or mishandled.
Why Is Paper So 20th Century?
Many brokerage firms and real estate agents haven’t made the digital leap and still depend on paper files. This practice is rapidly becoming outdated and unreliable. The choice to continue using paper versus moving to digital storage is a challenge companies will have to face as technology provides innovation to streamlining industry practices.
As organizations move to paperless offices, will your firm be left behind to top-producing digital real estate offices or paperless brokerage firms? When only using hard copies, there isn’t a central access point for the information. There are a variety of problems which make relying solely on paper storage inefficient, unpredictable, and unsecured.
Paper files are only as secure as the structure they are stored in. If a box of documents is taken, all the information in the papers would be available to anyone.
When you transmit hard copy information, you are creating a security risk. Files sent via fax or postal mail, have no security failsafe from interception. If the communication is obtained by a third party, the information has zero protection from prying eyes.
What are the Advantages of Electronic Storage?
Digital storage makes it possible for an agent to work with information remotely and at the main office without removing the hard copies and exposing them to physical loss and damage (1). A digital office’s productivity can increase leaps and bounds:
Easily sort and organize client files
Transfer information to coworkers
Central access point for all users
Ability for multiple backups in file storage
Protection from incidental damage
Each step in a transaction, (buying, selling or financing) sensitive information is collected and used. Electronically converting your paper files also allows you to add new levels of security and functionality to your business and these private documents.
What are the risks and pitfalls your office can face when going completely paperless? Converting your office’s records to a digital platform can get risky. While you’ll never have to worry about spilt coffee ruining forms, digital data’s survivability can also be an Achille’s heel.
Simply because the files are stored on a digital format, doesn’t mean that they’re secure. It’s crucial that when your office converts from paper to digital, you also integrate the right security software solutions for your office.
Security Scenario: The Buyer/Seller Dilemma
When purchases are being made the Selling agent typically submits his or her offer via fax to the Listing agent. With current practices, it’s possible to start a bidding war by reading the offers prior to the designated time. The Listing agent can then make others aware of the bid amounts, which tends to create the last minute inflation of the price.
Sensitive files can be sent using email anti-theft software. Only authorized recipients may open the offer, preventing a third party from having access to personal information. The software’s rights management, can insure that the offers can only be accessed at the given time to prevent elongated bidding wars by leaked contract terms.
What Type of Security Does Your Office Need?
Finding the right security software solution for your company requires research. Solutions for a centralized large enterprise office may not be the right fit for your independent real estate agency or branch mortgage firm (2).
What digital weaknesses exist in your office? Your office may not need every bell and security whistle. Here are some solutions available when you’re ready to protect and send sensitive electronic information:
File encryption: The process of encoding a message so that it can be read only by the sender and the intended recipient. If an unwanted party happens to intercept an encrypted message (unless they have somehow gotten the encryption keys) they will not be able to decipher the message.