How to keep real estate transactions safe from hacking.
Despite advances in technology and steps taken by corporations, significant data breaches seem to be an everyday occurrence. Since a real estate transaction is such a huge financial opportunity for hackers, they’re always on the lookout for weaknesses in your transaction security.
Although law enforcement has made some strides on catching hackers, the truth is that you’ve got to do your part to protect yourself during a real estate transaction. Let’s look at some of the ways you can use to keep your personal data and financial information safe.
Set Up a Firewall
One of the basics of cybersecurity is to set up a firewall on your computer systems. A firewall basically allows safe data traffic to come in while keeping unsafe data out. Luckily, most current operating systems come with one installed. But we always recommend checking your system. Most people can figure out how to set up a firewall with one of the many software options out there and/or online instructions. If you’re in doubt, however, there’s no shame in hiring a professional to get it done for you.
Use Reputable Anti-Virus Software
Anyone who has a computer should have an anti-virus software installed. There are several different types of software that are designed to protect your system from viruses, malware, and other intrusions. Norton and McAfee are probably the most well-known. This type of data security software will help protect you from hackers trying to gain access to your data or wreak havoc on your system.
Ask Your Agent How They Protect You
Real estate agents and title insurance professionals are very aware of a data breach’s impact, even if they’ve never experienced one themselves. At some point, you may need to send sensitive information in a digital format to either the insurance company or title insurance company. It’s always a good idea to ask what precautions are taken to keep your information protected, such as data encryption.
Double Check Email Addresses
One of the easiest ways that hackers can gain access to your private information is by pretending to be a representative of the real estate company through an email account. Let’s say they discover on your Facebook page that you’re purchasing a property.
They find out your email address and the email address of the real estate company. Then, they create their own domain name that is so close to the official email that you don’t notice it’s different. Then, they’ll attempt to mine you for information.
Use Hard-to-Crack Passwords
Not sure if you’ve heard this before, but many people use simple passwords like “password 123” for email access, business accounts, and more. As you can imagine, this makes it a lot easier for hackers with even a modicum of experience to crack into accounts. Passwords with 8-10 digits consisting of letters, numbers, and symbols is typically okay, but for sensitive information, our recommendation is to use at least 20 characters.
Frequently Change Passwords
In addition to using strong passwords, you should also be changing these passwords on a regular basis. There’s probably no reason to change them daily, but if you’re dealing with an account containing sensitive information, you should be changing the password either weekly or, at the very most, monthly. If your computer doesn’t already generate strong passwords and save them for you, then install branded software that does.
Don’t Send Sensitive Info by Email
As we said above, it’s not a good idea to send emails with sensitive information. This includes personal information, financial details such as bank account and credit card numbers, etc. If you need to send sensitive information, ask the real estate agent how to get it sent in an encrypted format. We also suggest that you create a dedicated email address solely for discussing a particular real estate transaction.
Don’t Open Any Suspicious Emails
You’d think currently that people would know not to open suspicious emails, but the truth is that some hackers have gotten very sophisticated. Gone are the days of daily emails from a “prince” in a foreign country wanting your banking information. Now, shysters are able to mimic businesses and make requests that way. If you’re ever in doubt, call the real estate company directly – and do not use the phone number included in the email.
Contact Marlin Title for Title Insurance Services
Marlin Title has helped complete thousands of real estate transactions. If you have any questions about title insurance or how we can help keep your transactions safe and secure, reach out to us by calling (727) 791-7000 today. We are proud to serve Safety Harbor, Tampa Bay, Spring Hill, Pinellas County, and Hillsborough County.