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Stay Safe Online

When communicating with strangers online, real estate professionals should be careful about the information they divulge. Several female sales associates, for instance, are careful about e-mailing photos and descriptions of themselves in response to Internet queries—and one has even pulled her photo from her Web site. 

“We don’t hear a lot from our associates about online problems,” says Gustavo A. Llamas, district sales manager of the Keyes Co./Realtors® in Miami. “But everyone has to be aware of problems like identify theft. So you need to guard your personal information carefully.”

Here are several tips for online safety:
  • Use antivirus software, a firewall and antispyware software to help keep your computer safe.
  • Update your Web browser and antivirus applications regularly.
  • Don’t ever give out bank account numbers, your Social Security number or other personal information in response to an e-mail message.
  • Limit the amount of personal information you disclose until you build a relationship—ideally with an in-person meeting.
  • Don’t open or reply to suspicious e-mail messages, and don’t open attachments from unknown senders.
  • Use the filters built into your Web browser or e-mail application to limit unsolicited spam. But usually you shouldn’t use the most restrictive setting, or you may filter out legitimate inquiries as well.

Sources: U.S. Federal Trade Commission and National Cyber Security Alliance.