Protecting sensitive data in a virtual world - Blog

Protecting sensitive data in a virtual world

Protecting sensitive data in a virtual world

Compliance Update Paul Offley, The Guild's Compliance Officer 27th September 2021

In today’s digital environment of virtual viewings, Zoom calls and Facetime, there are a few more additional concerns and considerations that agents need to be aware of when it comes to protecting sensitive data when marketing a property. This is according to Paul Offley, Compliance Officer at The Guild of Property Professionals, who says that he has seen a small, but increasing number of consumer complaints relating to the inclusion of personal or sensitive data in marketing material, especially with agents now promoting a virtual experience before a face-to-face one.


“During a virtual viewing or video, it is possible that personal data is captured on film, such as a document stuck on a fridge, papers left on a coffee table or photographs which would be best not to share, car registration numbers in photos or a number of other things that should not be shared online to the public or people viewing the property,” says Offley. “Of course, with the advancement of technology people can zoom in and see every little detail, something agents would not have had to think about before the inception of the virtual environment the sector finds itself in.  It is important to be aware of the danger of these potential data leaks and protect clients as much as possible.”


While most agents may already be doing so, Offley provides a few simple steps that will prevent a potential complaint against an agent and, more importantly, will protect their client’s personal information from being shared with the public:


Check out the room before any photographs or filming takes place, look and look again!

Check with the seller as to whether there is anything of a personal or sensitive nature in any room that they do not wish to be included - when they approve any brochure or marketing material you could always add a sentence to get them to confirm they have checked all photographs and video for any such items.

You can obtain software which can identify and blurs out personal or sensitive data.


“Perhaps it’s just a case of raising awareness but hopefully early intervention will mitigate against any future claims and protect both agents and their clients from a potential data breach crisis,” Offley concludes.


Paul Offley, The Guild's Compliance Officer

Paul Offley joined The Guild in 2017 as our in-house Compliance Officer, to help Members stay on top of legislation. Paul’s career has maintained a focus in estate agency for over 40 years, building a specialist knowledge in the compliance function. Paul helps Members to reduce the probability of any risk materialising by working alongside agents to identify areas where the business is at a high risk of exposure. Guild Members have compliance tools at their disposal and are regularly presented with updated information on the latest legislation requirements. Paul is also on hand to speak to agents individually, delivering quality and high standards to all our Members. Paul has been providing continual support to The Guild Members throughout COVID-19, from legislation and Government updates, to providing indispensable and personalised advice through Facebook Live. He is passionate about raising standards, and is part of The Property Ombudsman Industry Forum.

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