How can I be sure that my personal information is safe when shopping for a home online?

Thank you for your question. With so many of us relying on technology for work, school, paying bills exercising and everything in between to help maintain physical distancing and keep everyone safe and healthy during the pandemic, it’s a good time to take a moment to think about what we can do to protect ourselves from online threats.

During the pandemic, real estate has remained an essential service. Brokerages and salespeople throughout the province, and across the country, have stepped up and embraced digital technology that replaces much of the need for face-to-face interactions in real estate transactions. Increased use of existing and new technology has allowed them to continue to provide professional service to their clients and customers while adhering to the directives and guidance issued by government and medical authorities.

While we are all looking forward to the day when we can shake hands on a doorstep again, there is no question that technology has proven instrumental in making buying and selling easier for everyone in face of the pandemic.

The industry-wide move to increase the availability of online services has introduced buyers and sellers to exciting tools that may be new or unfamiliar to them. Virtual open houses and video walk-throughs, videoconferencing, online document review, electronic signatures and in some cases drone footage are becoming standard – and preferred – tools in transactions. Today, it is possible that an entire transaction can be done from start to finish completely online.

Tips for protecting your personal information online:

    • Do not use the same password for multiple accounts;
    • Never share your password;
    • Use multi-factor authentication (MFA), whenever possible;
    • Avoid using public, unsecured Wi-Fi;
    • Make sure all your WIFI networks are password protected;
    • Keep your browser updated;
    • Keep your devices updated, Windows and MacOS computers, Android and iOS devices, etcetera;
    • Install trusted protection programs and keep them updated (i.e. anti-spyware, anti-virus software and firewalls); and,
    • Don’t click on links in texts from unknown senders.

 
For more information on cyber safety visit getcybersafe.ca, a national public awareness campaign created by the Government of Canada to inform Canadians about cyber security.

Buying or selling a home today is much different than it may have been before the pandemic. It is important to find experts and professionals that you trust to protect your best interests and guide you through the process. Take your time to select the real estate salesperson and brokerage that is right for you. It is important for you as a buyer or seller to speak with your salesperson about your level of comfort with technology. You’re in the driver’s seat, and ultimately, you decide what can be done electronically in your transaction.

If you have a question for Joe about the home buying or selling process, please email information@reco.on.ca.


Joseph Richer is Registrar of the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO). He is in charge of the administration and enforcement of all rules that govern real estate professionals in Ontario. You can find more tips at reco.on.ca, follow on Twitter @RECOhelps or on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/RECOhelps.

 

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