Ever Googled that fabulous property at Byron Bay and then all of sudden been bombarded by emails or advertisements of similar properties? Deidre Chambers. What a coincidence!
Sorry Muriel it’s not the universe calling, it’s the internet tracking your every move and your every enquiry. Essentially you’ve been DATABASED!
Real estate is a prime example of where this happens. A simple search or enquiry via popular real estate search websites can collect your name, email addresses and are often used to build healthy subscriber databases.
The remedy for any unsolicited emails or letters is simple – just unsubscribe and most real estate agents are really good at ensuring you are taken off their lists.
But the difficulty is that it can be painfully time wasting exercise unsubscribing from databases, especially when you didn’t want to be there in the first place.
Here are some tips to keeping private’s private from the start.
• It’s possible to search the internet via a “privacy” mode, typically found in your web browser settings. This means your information is not collected and used by search engines to optimise (tailor) your future searching.
• You can also deselect the ability to optimise your searches and turn off your location tracking on digital devices such as mobile phones.
• You can also register to block ads on your digital devices. Websites like Adblock Plus might work for you.
• If you are actively on the hunt for property, you may even want to set up an email account where any reply enquires can be fed into. This will help keep your day-to-day email inbox clean.
• Avoid sharing your personal details if you do not wish to be on a real estate agent’s database.
• And remember, the majority of agents would much rather not waste their time on contacting clients who are not really interested, so don’t be afraid to speak up.
It’s also good to remember what the law says in circumstances where you are making enquiries on property and that is a real estate agent must not, at any time, use or disclose any confidential information obtained while acting on behalf of a client or dealing with a customer, unless:
(a) the client or customer authorises the disclosure, or
(b) the agent is permitted or compelled by law to disclose the information.
A spokesperson for the New South Wales department of Fair Trading said the laws change when an offer on a property has been made.
“When an agent accepts an offer from a prospective purchaser, the law requires them to identify the party from whom the offer is made.
“The laws do not specify exactly what information is required to be provided in order to identify them.”
Charles Tarbey chairman of Century21 said “an agent should not provide any confidential information such as a person’s name to a seller regarding a buyer, nor to a buyer regarding a seller without permission, other than the normal disclosures on a seller about the property.”
In short if you believe that a real estate agent has breached the Privacy Act 1988, you should contact the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) and report the situation.