Accessibility vs. Online Safety

Scale

As you create your online identity, you’ll need to strike a balance between sharing personal information and being safe.  Of course, you want people to be able to find you and contact you, and you probably even want strangers to be able to reach you if they’re in need of a real estate professional and they don’t know one.  On the other hand, you don’t want people to know so much about you that it compromises your safety.  The security breach created by information on the Facebook page of the wife of Britain’s intelligence chief points out the dangers of sharing online information carelessly.

Real estate professional should always be mindful of their safety.  The #1 Tip of the North Carolina Real Estate Safety Guide is “know who you’re dealing with.”  Hopefully every managing broker cautions new agents to use good judgment when meeting clients for the first time.

But social networking changes the game considerably.  Anyone with a Facebook account knows that strangers will often invite you to be their friend.  Some Facebook users are happy to make online connections with new people.  In fact, that’s one of the great attractions of such sites.  Other people are more cautious.  As you build your online presence, you’ll have to decide.  Here are some things to consider:

  • Make sure your privacy settings allow only people you have connections with to see sensitive personal information like family members’ names or your home address.
  • Don’t let people know that you and your family are out of town.  For example, posting to your blog, to Twitter or to Facebook in real time about your vacation broadcasts to the world that no one is at home in your house.
  • Choose a public place to meet people in person you’ve only been introduced to online.  Your office is probably best  Never agree to meet someone you don’t really know at a property—even if they’re the friend of a friend or they seem interesting based on their online profile.
  • Know the privacy guidelines of the sites you use.  For example, how do they use your personal information?

Putting your name and number on a yard sign to be seen by passersby is a very different kind of publicity than posting your information on the Internet to be seen by millions.  Choose a privacy/accessibility strategy that works for you.

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