Privacy Awareness Week: why your clients’ privacy matters to them – and you

Let’s face it, when it comes to trust, the real estate industry isn’t always viewed very highly, especially when it comes to consumer privacy. But gaining trust in this area is more important than ever before, with consumers becoming increasingly aware of their privacy rights. This privacy week, O*NO Legal founder Kristen Porter suggests brushing up on your knowledge, and getting your affairs in order when it comes to privacy.

The Deloitte Privacy Index revealed some disappointing, yet probably unsurprising news when it comes to how consumers perceive the real estate industry.

In relation to privacy practices, such as transparency, data collection and online surveillance practices, the real estate industry proved less trustworthy than the government.

The sector was also the industry that consumers felt least comfortable sharing their information with online.

It’s a grim reality but one that can be managed, providing real estate agencies understand the importance of privacy, and ensure they adhere to the laws.

Adhering to the Privacy Act, while not essential, is another great way to demonstrate your commitment to your consumers’ privacy. 

But there’s no need to panic, developing a privacy framework is not as difficult as it may first appear to be.

While privacy land can seem super complicated, if we really break it down, it’s not.

Essentially the rules in the Act are just around how you collect, use and disclose personal information.

If we think of it like that – collect, use and disclose – it’s actually quite simple to build a framework around that.

Put simply, complying with the Privacy Act means agencies must inform their clients that they are collecting data through a collection notice.

Agencies should also introduce a privacy policy that not only has more detail on the collection of information but says how they will disclose and use the data. 

That’s so that when someone gives you data they are making an informed decision. They know how you’re going to use the data they are providing to you.

A good privacy policy should also include information on how an agency will store and keep clients’ data safe, as well as how an enquiry or complaint can be made if required.

Of course, mistakes can and will happen, so agencies should also develop a data breach response plan covering what steps would be taken if your clients’ data was breached.

Complying with the Privacy Act is required by law, unless you fit one of the exemptions, such as being a small business. 

Either way, complying with the Privacy Act not only gives you peace of mind that you’ve got your clients covered, they will really appreciate it too.

If you’re a small player and your competitors are promising to protect personal information then they’ve already got a competitive advantage over you.

So creating that quality privacy plan is a great way to get the edge, showing your clients that you genuinely care about their data.

A lot of my clients are already opting to demonstrate their commitment to privacy by complying by choice, simply because it’s the right thing to do.

Unfortunately, time and time again, the real estate industry doesn’t rank highly in surveys relating to trust.

Lobbying against proposed reforms, such as abolishing the small business exemption, could make the industry appear more untrustworthy, even though those in real estate know that’s not the case.

Complying with the Privacy Act may go some way towards changing that perception.

How can we expect to change the way the community sees the real estate industry and appear more trustworthy, if we don’t show that we care about the protection of our clients’ data.

This Privacy Awareness Week, why not show your clients that you care about the protection of their personal information by participating in the new free training that O*NO Legal – The Real Estate Agents’ Lawyer has designed, specifically for frontline staff.

So, why not change the industry perception, and do the right thing in the process.

To register, click here.

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Kristen Porter

Kristen Porter is a legal practitioner specialising in real estate, property management and privacy laws. She is the founding Director of O*NO Legal The Real Estate Agents' Lawyer.

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