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8 Ways for REALTORS to Get Home Safely
The National Association of REALTORS (NAR) is at the forefront of promoting agent safety in the real estate industry every day. Each September, NAR shines a spotlight on agent safety and well-being and its tenets of REALTOR®Safety: knowledge, awareness, and empowerment.
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Selling Safely: Because It Can Happen To You
Wednesday, September 23, 2020 at 11:00 AM PDT REALTORS face job-related risks every day. Being aware of potential dangers and taking precautions will help you avoid risky situations that can happen to any agent--including you! In this free REALTOR Safety webinar from the National Association of REALTORS, Jen Stanbrough, REALTOR, shares lessons learned since the loss of her close friend and fellow REALTOR. She’ll discuss the risks agents and brokers face on the job, how to be aware of situational dangers, be prepared to keep yourself safe, and avoid risky situations. Jen will also share best habits, tips, and tools all real estate professionals should include in their safety practices. Register now!
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8 Tips for an Agent Safety Month Unlike Any Other
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5 Resources for Realtor Safety Month
The year was 2011, and Ashley Oakland was a 27-year-old REALTOR in Des Moines, Iowa. She had been an agent for Century 21 since 2010 and was working inside a Des Moines model townhouse on Friday, April 8. A home builder employee heard a commotion inside the townhouse Ashley was showing to a potential buyer. The employee rushed to the scene and found Ashley on the floor, having been shot twice by her assailant. Ashley's killer has never been found.
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Hacking, Scams, and Viruses: 4 Effective Ways to Work from Home More Safely
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Are your kids attending school from home? Safest ways to share your work computer
The persistence of the pandemic means working from home will continue for some time to come. With most of the nation's largest school districts announcing virtual learning plans for the fall, real estate agents, like many others, face additional work-life balance challenges. While some school districts are providing students the tech tools they'll need for remote learning -- from iPads to Chromebooks -- others are allowing families to use the tech resources they have. Kids today are more tech-savvy than ever. According to a 2019 Common Sense Media report, 95% of families with children now have smartphones, up from 63% in 2013, and 41% in 2011. Nearly half of children (42%) ages 0 to 8 have tablets, up from 7% four years prior. For agents suddenly saddled with several students connecting from their home, sharing your work computer might be a reality. But how can you share it safely? Here are some things you can do to protect your work – and share your computer with kids learning from home. Create Separate Accounts Whatever operating system you use – Windows or Mac – allows you to set up separate accounts. You should do this for everyone who shares your work computer. This will give them a personal login and protect your work files from being accessed. Just remember not to share your password so someone won't accidentally sign into your account. Set a Schedule If more than one person is sharing a single computer, you need to make sure you have access to it when you need it. Use a family calendar – such as Google Calendar – to block out the times that your kids need the computer for classes and homework, and when you need it for work. Employ Ground Rules You need to establish ground rules for computer use to make sure your kids know what is expected of them when using a shared computer. There are also ways to adjust your computer settings to have a "kid-safe" mode to protect your work computer better. Unplanned scheduling conflicts can emerge, so plan for it. Think about priorities and alternative options in advance. If something does come up, you can avoid panic and adapt to an unexpected change more easily by having rules already in place. Establish a Central Location Having your computer set up in a set location can make it easier for everyone. If you are using a laptop, it's still a good idea to establish one location. It will save time in connecting needed accessories for learning – such as an external monitor, mouse, a video conferencing light, and a microphone. It will save everyone time and avoid a scramble to connect everything at the last minute if your laptop is roaming your home. Make your computer kid-safe The most popular computing operating systems – and web browsers – have built-in settings that can restrict, for example, what your kids can see when they search online. Microsoft even offers a Family Safety Account. The point is you need to not only talk about how your work computer can be used, but also ways it should not be used. If you want an added layer of protection, there are software programs built to make nearly every digital device safer for your kids to use – and safer for your work computer. Protect your computer Windows 10 and Mac both offer exceptional built-in protection from computer viruses and malware. If you want to be extra safe and you don't already use a virus protection program, you can add one to protect your work computer and your files better, no matter who is using it. Everyone is experiencing more stress these days, so having an organized plan on how to share your work computer with your kids can make things a little less hectic. And remember, for the 60 percent of real estate agents in North America who have access to Tech Helpline, you can always reach out for help for any computer issue you are having at work – or home. Tricia Stamper is Director of Technology at Florida Realtors®, which owns and operates Tech Helpline and Form Simplicity.
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Are Electronic Signatures Safe?
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Detecting Thieves Posing as Buyers, Part 3
Got a buyer whose behavior sets off alarm bells in your mind? They may actually be a thief. Over the past few weeks, we've been introducing you to behavioral "tells" that indicate a buyer may be a burglar. Last week, you learned about a scam called "The Couple's Play." In this week's video, you'll learn all about "The Neat Freak." In this scam, the thief disguised as a buyer will "dust check" a window. Seems harmless enough, right? Well, what they're actually doing is unlocking the window so that they can come back later in order to burglarize the home. Watch the video above to learn other behaviors that suggest your buyer is preparing to burglarize a listing. Catch up with the full series on spotting thieves below: Detecting Thieves Posing as Buyers, Part 1 Detecting Thieves Posing as Buyers, Part 2
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5 Reasons to Safeguard Your Seller With Virtual Tours
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Detecting Thieves Posing as Buyers, Part 2
Have a buyer who's flirting with you during a home tour? How about a buyer who complains about their spouse? If your buyers are a couple, and one wanders off into the house while the other distracts you, they may actually be a couple of thieves. In part one of this series, we showed you how to look for signs that buyers are actually criminals casing the listing they're touring. This week, we look at a common scam—The Couple's Play—that thieves use to outright steal during a showing, or to plan a future burglary. Watch the video above to learn: Why couples who separate during a tour may actually be thieves The common behaviors thieves display to distract you What you can do when you suspect your buyers are actually burglars Stay tuned next week for the final part of this series!
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Detecting Thieves Posing as Buyers, Part 1
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Protect Yourself from Identity Theft: A Must-Do for All Agents
It is paramount that real estate agents protect themselves from identify theft. It is not just happening online. The types of crime identity theft includes range from credit card fraud to having all your financial and personal information stolen. If it happens to you, it can be very scary and time-consuming to fix. Now is your opportunity to be proactive. Here are the top nine ways you can protect yourself.
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How to Prevent Coronavirus by Cleaning Your Smartphone and Computer TODAY!
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Safe Selling: Reading the Predator, Part 2
What are the signs that a prospect is gearing up to attack you? It's all about the adrenaline, and the physical and verbal signs that adrenaline is surging in a would-be attacker's body. So why are the signs of rising adrenaline important to look out for? Because it's the body hormone that's released when a predator is preparing to attack--and if you see the signs of an adrenaline surge, it's time to get out NOW. Watch the video above to learn: The nonverbal changes to look out for How a predator's voice changes prior to an attack, and why What to look for when a predator is trying to cover up adrenaline surge symptoms Next week: How to show a vacant property safely.
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RPR User Shares Her Quick and Easy Safety Tip
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Safe Selling: Reading the Predator, Part 1
Throughout this video series, we've showed you how to deter predators. But what happens when you realize the person that you're with actually IS a predator? And what are the signs that tell you it's time to exit the house you're showing and get to safety? Watch the video above to find out the subtle, physical signs that a predator is gearing up for an attack. Next week: The details of how to tell when a predator is about to attack, from body language to voice changes and beyond.
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Dealing with Malware
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Safe Selling: Showing Prep Tips for When You Can't Arrive Early
In a perfect world, agents would always have time to arrive at a showing before their prospect in order to prepare the home for a safe showing. But as we know, the world isn't exactly perfect. What happens when you arrive to a showing at the same time as the buyer and don't have time to take the necessary safety precautions? That's what we'll show you in this week's Safe Selling episode. Watch the video above to learn: How to set expectations with prospects before a showing that you'll need to enter the home alone first A sample script to use when setting those expectations Why it's important to prepare the home for your safety... no matter what Next week: What happens when you're prospect really is a predator? Learn how to tell when they're gearing up for an attack—and how to stay safe.
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Safe Selling: Stay Out of Outbuildings!
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Safe Selling: Opening a Lockbox and Door
Never turn your back on a client... and we mean that literally. To prevent finding yourself in a vulnerable situation with a prospect, we know to never physically turn away from them. But what should you do in times where that seems inevitable--like opening a lockbox or door? In this week's Safe Selling video, we talk about just that. Watch the video above to learn: Precisely how to stand so that you can open a lockbox while still being able to see the client How to open a door and walk through so that your back is never to the client How to come off as warm and welcoming when opening door or lockboxes, rather than awkward or standoffish. Next week: Simple tips for navigating stairs safely during a showing.
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Safe Selling: Dealing with the Dangers of Master Suites
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Safe Selling: Why Bedrooms Are a Danger Zone During Showings
As an agent, you've heard it a hundred times: don't go into the basement or attic during a showing because you can easily get trapped and assaulted by unsavory prospects. While that seems like a no-brainer, there's another place in the house that you need to be cautious about--and for very similar reasons. That place? Bedrooms! In this week's Safe Selling video, we break down why bedrooms are a danger zone for agents during a showing. Watch the video above to learn: The two major reasons that bedrooms are unsafe for agents Why bedrooms are ideal for carrying out an attack What to do when a client has a question about a bedroom Where to safely stand when a client is viewing a bedroom Next week: Master suites present their own safety challenges during a showing. Learn how to navigate them safely.
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Safe Selling: How to Keep a Safe Distance from Prospects at a Showing
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Safe Selling: How to Maximize Your Visibility During a Showing
The appointment is set, and you've just arrived ahead of your prospect for a showing. Beyond previewing the home to learn its layout and features, this is the perfect time to prepare the listing so that you're safe during the showing. How? As we've learned, the first step is to open all the blinds and turn on all the lights so that neighbors can see in. The next step? "Blocking" your presentation. "Blocking" is a theatrical term that means planning where you're going to stand. In the case of real estate, that means planning where you're going to stand during different segments of your showing presentation. Watch the video above to learn: Why windows are your key to staying safe Why it's important not to stand somewhere you can't be seen from the outside of the listing The red flag that predators may display when you've denied them an opportunity to attack Next week: Why you should take the literal "high ground" when showing a home or meeting with new prospects.
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Holiday Tips for Electrical Safety
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How to Overcome the Pain of Passwords
Are you like me and password dumb? Do you use the same password all the time (NOT a good idea)? Different sites require upper case, lower case, a number, and a symbol of some kind, and passwords have to be a minimum of eight digits long. Now let's add even more reasons to forget passwords, like facial recognition, password managers, and a ton of other apps and programs. How many times have you tapped on the "Forgot Password" link and a site emails you 23er&#7di1? So you go in to change your password, and the one you enter is rejected because you have used it once in the past 10 years! How about sticky notes on your computer or desk?
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Friday Freebie: Guide to Staying Safe without Sacrificing the Sale
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Privacy Changes Coming to Facebook Groups
Facebook, one of the largest social media platforms in the world, is one of the best tools you can use as a real estate agent. It offers endless opportunities for you to engage with potential buyers. One of those opportunities, Facebook Groups, enables you to create a group that can be targeted to a specific location or audience. While Facebook Groups are great, there are some upcoming changes that may impact the success of these groups. To get you ahead of the changes, we outlined them and how they may impact how you use groups for your business.
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EXCLUSIVE: Interview with a Realtor Who Escaped an Attack
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Safe Selling: Protecting Yourself as a Real Estate Agent
It's September, which means it's Realtor safety month. Real estate can be an extremely rewarding career, but it comes with its own set of dangers. The people and even places you run across can be hazardous. Even driving in your car puts you at risk. Here are some things you should keep in mind when going about your job. We've also included some apps and programs you should consider investing in to make sure you are as safe as can be.
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Property Fraud Is Rampant. Don't Let This Happen to You or Your Clients
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What's the Safest Way to Manage Your Passwords?
It may be the biggest Catch-22 of technology: password protection keeps your data safe. After all, one in five Americans says they have experienced a compromise of an online account. But to be genuinely safe experts recommend using different, highly complex passwords: a mix of random letters, numbers, and characters. However, that approach makes these passwords nearly impossible for most people to remember!
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How NOT to Get Ripped Off by Your Contractor: Protect Your Clients and Your Properties
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Dealing with Squatters: How to Ask Them to Leave
So, you've calmed an agitated squatter in the home you're showing. What's the next step to take in order to show the listing without provoking a confrontation? Watch this week's episode of 'Real Answers' to find out. In the video above, you'll learn: How to safely give squatters options to leave so you can show the home What to say if they choose not to leave Why respect and appreciation for the squatter and their decision are key Why you should never issue ultimatums if you want to stay safe Sample scripts you can use throughout the interaction
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Dealing with Squatters: How to Calm an Agitated Person
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Dealing with Squatters: Avoiding Confrontation During a Showing
Last week, we showed you what to do when the vacant home you're showing has a squatter. If you used the techniques we discussed, the squatter may leave the property voluntarily--but what happens if they refuse? That's what we're exploring in this week's episode of "Real Answers." Watch the video above to learn: Why you should treat them like the homeowner to avoid a confrontation A sample script for starting a conversation with them What NOT to say to avoid aggravating a squatter The physical signs that hint that a squatter may escalate the situation No matter how considerate your approach, sometimes a squatter may want to confront you anyway. Tune into next week's episode for tips on talking down an agitated squatter!    
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How to Show a Vacant Property Safely, Part 2
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How to Show a Vacant Property Safely, Part 1
Vacant properties, while convenient to show, present a host of safety issues for real estate agents. First among those concerns, according to Real Safe Agent CEO Lee Goldstein, is the potential presence of squatters. In this week's episode of "Real Answers," a video series on real estate safety issues, Goldstein shows us how to deal with vacant homes in general and squatters in particular. Watch the video above to learn: What to do before you enter a vacant listing Why it's important to take accompaniment when previewing or showing vacant properties And more! Next week, be sure to tune in again as we cover Part 2 of how to show vacant listings!  
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Safe Selling: Reading the Predator, Part 2
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Safe Selling: Reading the Predator, Part 1
Throughout this video series, we've showed you how to deter predators. But what happens when you realize the person that you're with actually IS a predator? And what are the signs that tell you it's time to exit the house you're showing and get to safety? Watch the video above to find out the subtle, physical signs that a predator is gearing up for an attack.
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Safe Selling: Showing Prep Tips for When You Can't Arrive Early
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Beyond CCPA and GDPR: New Digital Privacy Developments that Realtors Need to Know
We recently talked about the new California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) and its impact on the real estate industry in the United States. CCPA is the first domestic state regulation after the EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), and although CCPA isn't as far-reaching as GDPR, it will mean a change in the way real estate agents in the US handle and manage personal identifiable information for their clients and leads. Unlike the GDPR, CCPA is based in this country and, much like GDPR, has inspired other new privacy regulations in other states that are reflective of CCPA and the GDPR.
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Safe Selling: Stay Out of Outbuildings!
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Google Flags Websites that Are Not HTTPS as Not Secure
It's for your clients. It's for your security. It's for Google. Our team heard "rumblings" as early as two years ago from Google strongly "advocating" website owners move to HTTPS encryption to make the Internet secure and protect the privacy of your users. If you have not yet acquired an SSL certificate, you may have already noticed Google has flagged your website as "Not Secure" in Chrome.
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Safe Selling: Easy Tricks for Navigating Stairs
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Safe Selling: Opening a Lockbox and Door
Never turn your back on a client... and we mean that literally. To prevent finding yourself in a vulnerable situation with a prospect, we know to never physically turn away from them. But what should you do in times where that seems inevitable--like opening a lockbox or door? In this week's Safe Selling video, we talk about just that. Watch the video above to learn: Precisely how to stand so that you can open a lockbox while still being able to see the client How to open a door and walk through so that your back is never to the client How to come off as warm and welcoming when opening door or lockboxes, rather than awkward or standoffish.
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Safe Selling: Dealing with the Dangers of Master Suites
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Safe Selling: Why Bedrooms Are a Danger Zone During Showings
As an agent, you've heard it a hundred times: don't go into the basement or attic during a showing because you can easily get trapped and assaulted by unsavory prospects. While that seems like a no-brainer, there's another place in the house that you need to be cautious about--and for very similar reasons. That place? Bedrooms! In this week's Safe Selling video, we break down why bedrooms are a danger zone for agents during a showing. Watch the video above to learn: The two major reasons that bedrooms are unsafe for agents Why bedrooms are ideal for carrying out an attack What to do when a client has a question about a bedroom Where to safely stand when a client is viewing a bedroom
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Safe Selling: Quick Hack for Keeping a Safe Distance from Prospects at a Showing
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Safe Selling: The 'No Influence' Sales Strategy
Here's something you can try on your next showing: the 'No Influence' sales strategy. It's a showing technique you can use to keep yourself safe from potential predators--all while making legitimate prospects feel like a million bucks. From childhood, we're taught to make others comfortable in our presence, and as Realtors, a certain interpersonal ease is important in building a thriving client base. Because of this, too many agents ignore their gut instincts to protect themselves during in-person interactions with new prospects. They fear alienating a prospect by making them uncomfortable. The No Influence technique lets agents seem every inch the gracious guide during a showing. Meanwhile, behind the scenes, this strategy actually allows agents to subtly position themselves in a protective manner during showings. Check out this week's Safe Selling video to learn more about this technique. Watch the video above to: Get a script to use with prospects during the home tour Learn why this technique pleases legit buyers and deflates predators
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Safe Selling: Why You Should Take the (Literal) High Ground
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Safe Selling: How to Maximize Your Visibility During a Showing
The appointment is set, and you've just arrived ahead of your prospect for a showing. Beyond previewing the home to learn its layout and features, this is the perfect time to prepare the listing so that you're safe during the showing. How? As we've learned, the first step is to open all the blinds and turn on all the lights so that neighbors can see in. The next step? "Blocking" your presentation. "Blocking" is a theatrical term that means planning where you're going to stand. In the case of real estate, that means planning where you're going to stand during different segments of your showing presentation. Watch the video above to learn: Why windows are your key to staying safe Why it's important not to stand somewhere you can't be seen from the outside of the listing The red flag that predators may display when you've denied them an opportunity to attack
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Safe Selling: 4 Times You Should ALWAYS Have a Showing Buddy
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[Best of 2018] Safe Selling: Screen Prospects with This Easy Phone Trick
We're continuing an annual tradition of counting down our top 10 articles of the year. The following article was originally published in November and is #5 in our countdown. See #6 here. We're keeping it short and sweet this week with a quick trick you can use over the phone to reveal 'red flags' that suggest a prospect might be dangerous. You recently learned the basics of spotting red flags in prospects. In this week's 'Safe Selling' episode, discover a trick called 'The Training Play' that can help you gauge a prospect's hidden motives. Watch the video above to: Hear a sample script for using the Training Play on the phone Find out which vocal cues to be alert for Learn how to tell if you should take another agent with you on a showing Stay tuned until next week's episode of Safe Selling!  
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Safe Selling: The 3 Things You Should Do to Prepare a Home for a Showing
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Safe Selling: Use the Meet Time to Establish Power and Control
"Always take power and control wherever you can." That's the advice from agent safety expert Lee Goldstein. In this week's "Safe Selling" video, Lee shares another way that agents can turn off potential predators--by taking control of what time you'll meet a prospect for a showing. It's a simple tactic. Rather than simply agreeing to meet a new prospect at the time they suggest, Lee recommends telling the prospect you can meet them at an alternative time. Because predators look for weakness and subservience in victims, this minor pushback may signal to them that you aren't an easy target, and that YOU are the one in control. Watch the video above to learn: Why this tactic turns off predators, but leaves real clients unphased Why you should never apologize or ask if the alternate time is "okay" with a prospect
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Safe Selling: Using Property Information to Deter a Predator
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Safe Selling: Screen Prospects with This Easy Phone Trick
We're keeping it short and sweet this week with a quick trick you can use over the phone to reveal 'red flags' that suggest a prospect might be dangerous. You recently learned the basics of spotting red flags in prospects. In this week's 'Safe Selling' episode, discover a trick called 'The Training Play' that can help you gauge a prospect's hidden motives. Watch the video above to: Hear a sample script for using the Training Play on the phone Find out which vocal cues to be alert for Learn how to tell if you should take another agent with you on a showing Stay tuned until next week's episode of Safe Selling!  
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Safe Selling: The Office and Driver's License Myth
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Shady Prospect? Spot 'Red Flags' with This Technique
Have you ever gotten a 'funny' feeling when talking to a new prospect over the phone--like something just felt a bit 'off'? That may have been your intuition warning you that a prospect may not be who they seem. Today, we're exploring a communication technique that will help you uncover 'red flags' that warn you to be wary of a prospect. In this week's 'Safe Selling' video, you'll learn: What active listening is, and how to use it with prospects How to tell a legitimate buyer from a suspicious prospect The 'onion peeling process' of drilling down into what a prospect says and looking for inconsistencies Why inconsistencies in what a prospect tells you are a red flag And, bonus, while active listening can help you weed out shady prospects, it can also help you gain a deeper understanding of what real buyers need! Stay tuned 'til next week for more safe selling techniques!    
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5 Rules for Staying Safe on Social Media
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Safe Selling: How to Avoid Marketing that Attracts Predators
Does the information you provide in your marketing attract leads--or predators? Last week, we learned the difference between "strong" language that attracts leads and "weak" language that draws in predators. We're building on that lesson this week by exploring what types of marketing information attracts dangerous people, and what repels them. Watch the video above to learn: The difference between personal and professional information Why you should NEVER include personal information on your website or other marketing channels The personal details that can cause a predator to stalk you in person What topics your marketing should focus on instead Stay tuned for next week's 'Safe Selling' video!  
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The Smartest Agent Is the Safe Agent
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Safe Selling: Authoritative Language vs. Subservient Language
What kind of language do you use on your website and in your marketing? Is it weak, subservient language that attracts predators--or do you repel criminals with confident, strong language? Last week, we learned how agents can project power in their headshots in order to repel predators. In this week's Safe Selling video, we're taking the 'power' concept one step further by showing you how to convey power in your marketing copy. Why is being mindful of the language you use important? Well, if a predator has already started to focus on you, using subservient language is going to keep their attention on you. Because they're looking to have power over others, weakness in language signals that you're potentially a subservient target for them. Watch the video above to learn: The word you should NEVER use in your real estate marketing The phrase you should use instead Why strong language will attract more business while deterring dangerous criminals Tune in next week for more 'Safe Selling' advice!  
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Safe Selling: How Your Headshot Can Deter Predators
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How to Connect to a Computer Remotely
If you ever find yourself needing to access a computer remotely--either attempting to connect to a desktop computer at work or need to assist someone with their computer from afar--this primer is for you. Whether you have a Microsoft Windows PC or an Apple Mac, let's take a look at the basics you'll need to know.
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Safe Selling: Is Your Prospect Actually a Thief? How to Tell
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Agent Safety Month: 6 Tips for Real Estate Agents
September is Agent Safety Month, but we want real estate agents to be safe every day of the year. Real estate agents spend their days meeting with so many people, and they're entrusted with clients' homes during open houses and property showings. Beyond that, an agent's job often relies on their notoriety — and that means sharing a lot of information online. How can real estate agents take precautions online and offline to stay safe? Here are six of our biggest tips:
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Safe Selling: How to Identify Thieves
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Safe Selling: The Timeline of a Crime
Violent crimes against real estate agents don't start when the predator and the agent first meet. In truth, that first meeting is rather late in the timeline of a crime. Instead, these violent crimes start far earlier--when a predator first chooses a victim. Last week, we learned about the psychology of predators and the emotional cycle that drives them to commit a violent crime. Today, we're learning what that timeline looks like--from the initial selection to the research and fantasy stages all the way up to the attack. By understanding all the "pre-work" that occurs before a predator even contacts an agent, we can devise a plan to reduce the risk of becoming a victim. Stay tuned in the weeks ahead as this "Safe Selling" series continues to find out more about protecting yourself!    
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Realtor Safety: Preparing a Home for a Showing
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Realtor Safety: Navigating Stairs without Making Yourself Vulnerable to Attack
We're re-running this popular agent safety video series from Real Safe Agent on our broker channel to highlight the importance of safety on the job. Brokers, please feel free to share and/or reuse this content on your own blog, website, social media account, internal communications, and beyond! We're continuing our new video series of safety tips for agents in the field. Last month, we learned how to open a door and lockbox without being vulnerable to potentially dangerous prospects. Today, we turn our attention to safety tips inside a home during a showing--how to safely navigate stairs. Julie and Lee with Real Safe Agent point out that the conventional wisdom--allowing your prospect to go all the way up the stairs before you follow them--is wrong. Why? Because it gives prospects ample time to turn a corner out of your line of sight and potentially get into an ambush position. How should you climb a staircase instead? Watch the short video above for more information and a demonstration. Tune in next time for more agent safety tips!    
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Who's Attacking Real Estate Agents?
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Realtor Safety: Opening a Lockbox and Door
We're re-running this popular agent safety video series from Real Safe Agent on our broker channel to highlight the importance of safety on the job. Brokers, please feel free to share and/or reuse this content on your own blog, website, social media account, internal communications, and beyond! In-person showings are fraught with potential dangers for real estate agents. So how can agents stay safe on the job? Today, we're introducing a weekly video series that shows agents all the subtle things they need to know to stay safe on the job--while still presenting themselves as a friendly professional. In this week's video, Realtor Jason Ralston of Conway Real Estate demonstrates how to open a lockbox or property door without turning your back on your prospect--a vulnerable position for Realtors alone in the field. Watch this short video to learn: How to subtly position yourself while chatting up your client in a friendly manner How to deal with tricky situations, like homes with an outside door that swings out and an inside door that swings in How to stay safe while treating your client in a warm, welcoming way If you found this video helpful, please share it with your colleagues--and be sure to tune in next week for more Realtor safety tips!
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Realtor Safety: Prevention vs. Reaction
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Rebuttal: Why Background Checks on Real Estate Prospects Don't Work
On June 21, RE Technology published an article by Lee Goldstein of Real Safe Agent that called into question the efficacy of background checks, with a specific focus on the application of such by real estate agents seeking to use information as an additional safety tool. This rebuttal, by James Reilly of red violet and FOREWARN, explores the weaknesses of the original author's evaluation of background checks: According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, if you buckle up in the front seat of a passenger car, you can reduce your risk of a fatal injury by 45 percent. If seat belts are not 100 percent effective at saving lives, then they are rendered unusable and ineffective, and give a false sense of security, right? We should all immediately stop wearing them, right? Of course not. Debate around real estate agent safety is a good thing. The fact that there is ongoing conversation about safety protocol, exploring the strengths and weaknesses of varying tools and techniques, means that this important topic stays fresh in the minds of the men and women who, unfortunately by the nature of their business, have inherent risk due to the need for personal engagement with individuals about whom they have little to no knowledge. Unfortunately, the dispersal of information that is rife with inaccuracies, false and misleading conclusions, and reckless recommendations is, in my opinion, not only careless but grossly negligent. Anyone involved in real estate owes it to their fellow industry professionals to shoot straight. The referenced article strayed well from the mark. As the only instant identity verification and criminal record indicator specifically designed for the real estate market, we (FOREWARN) take issue with the author's claims and associated conclusions and thank RE Technology for allowing us the opportunity to respond. AUTHOR'S CLAIM: Through creative wording and misleading isolation of data and comparison, the author represents that the Department of Justice feels that commercial background checks are ineffective. FACT: Virtually every government agency utilizes commercial databases as part of any investigative endeavor. Additionally, companies across America use commercial databases to power various forms of background checks in their daily workflow. AUTHOR'S CLAIM: Of the 10.7 million arrests in 2016, only 1.4 million had a final disposition, which is required for a record to show up in a commercially available criminal background check. FACT: The statement that commercial criminal databases only have records with a final disposition is FALSE. This claim demonstrates perhaps the single greatest piece of evidence that the author has no background in the investigative data industry or that he intentionally presents manipulated numbers and statistics as facts, tying them together to create a false narrative around criminal coverage. A quality investigative resource will show arrests soon after they occur, regardless of whether there has been a final disposition. AUTHOR'S CLAIM: There is a 30 percent error rate of instant background checks due to spelling of names, and errors in DOBs and data entry (implying that they are useless). FACT:  Variances and human errors in data entry do NOT render industry-leading information solutions ineffective or unusable. Anytime humans are involved in the collection and input of data, certainly there are chances for errors. A quality data provider accounts for these errors through highly technical data fusion processes and algorithms that result in not perfect, but highly accurate matching. High quality criminal record repositories, coupled with advanced data science practices, provide highly effective insight for a multitude of use cases, including screening individuals before face-to-face engagement. Further, the author limits evaluation to criminal records. Background screening of prospects also allows the verification of identity to ensure the person an agent is engaging with is who they say they are. AUTHOR'S CLAIM:  The use of criminal background checks poses a legal issue. The author cites the Supreme Court for the proposition that "the use of background checks may be a violation of the Fair Housing Act." FACT: By making these blanket statements with no further color, the author is extremely disingenuous. Organizations around the country use background checks every day without violating the FHA. It takes more than just a background check to violate the FHA. It takes a subsequent action that results in discrimination in the sale, rental, or financing of dwellings, and in other housing-related transactions, based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status or disability (of which persons with criminal records are not a protected class under the FHA). To be clear, it is never okay to engage in discriminatory practices of any kind. Verifying a person's identity and understanding risk factors such as a criminal history to ensure one's safety is not the same as taking discriminatory action against a person because of their race, national origin or other protected characteristic. I think it's fair to say that the author would not have used this red herring had he known that FOREWARN is actually used by Housing Authorities. AUTHOR'S CLAIM: Only 37 percent of people charged with rape had a previous felony conviction at the time they were arrested for rape the first time. FACT: 37 percent of people charged with rape had a previous felony conviction at the time they were arrested for rape the first time. Even if the author's isolated statistic was the whole story, I'm confused as to how this supports his false narrative. In fact, the statement alone demonstrates that 37 percent of those charged had criminal records that could have found through a background check prior to their next assault. But consistent with the author's theme of disingenuous presentation of information, the same cited source (Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network) goes on to report that MORE THAN HALF of all alleged rapists have at least one prior conviction of rape, robbery, and/or assault and battery. Conclusion Not properly and comprehensively addressing agent safety can be catastrophic. In September of 2014, Beverly Carter, an Arkansas-based real estate agent and mother of three was murdered by individuals posing as prospective home buyers. "If Mom had been alerted on inconsistencies in the callers' story, she would not have handled that appointment the same way," says Beverly Carter's son and Founder and Executive Director of the Beverly Carter Foundation, Carl Carter, Jr. "With an application like FOREWARN, she would have immediately known that the spoofed phone number didn't match who they claimed to be. With more information at her fingertips, she would still be alive today." As executive management of a public company that provides information solutions to many industries, including real estate, I make no claim that I'm an unbiased voice. But through almost a decade of work with investigative data, dealing personally with law enforcement, other government agencies, and corporate and private investigators, I've been immersed in the world of, and the use of, commercial databases for risk mitigation and fraud prevention. As such, I emphatically believe that real estate agents should be armed with as much knowledge as possible. There is no single solution to the issue of agent safety. A comprehensive protocol of both tools and processes are needed at the agent, agency, and association level, to make a substantial impact on the safety of the professionals that are at the heart of making this industry thrive. Whether it be through FOREWARN or another information provider, the use of data to "know your customer" should be an essential part of that safety protocol for every agent across the country. The author seems to believe that unless a risk mitigation tool is 100 percent effective, agents are better off walking into engagements blind. I don't agree. Use your seatbelt. James Reilly is President of red violet (NASDAQ: RDVT) and FOREWARN.    
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Why Background Checks on Real Estate Prospects Don't Work
Many real estate agents run background reports on new prospects before meeting them in person. However, a new study by the U.S. Department of Justice shows why commercial background checks may be ineffective and dangerously misleading. This article explores the weaknesses of background reports: The NCIC, National Crime Information Center, is the gold standard in criminal background check databases and is available ONLY to law enforcement. This database is the most complete and accurate record of arrests and convictions in the United States and is substantially more complete and accurate than databases used by commercial criminal background check products--which is why a Department of Justice report released this year is so disturbing. The DOJ Report This year, the DOJ released its Survey of State Criminal History Systems. The two-year study of arrests and convictions data from 2016 provides insights into why commercial background checks are ineffective. The report found that a remarkably low percentage of arrests and convictions are making it into the nation's most complete criminal history database. The following are some highlights of the report: Of the 10.7 million arrests in 2016, only 3.6 million were reported to NCIC Of the 3.6 million reported, only 1.4 million had a final disposition. (Final dispositions are necessary for a record to show up in a commercially available criminal background check) 2016 was the most complete year in the NCIC's history What these numbers show is that even if a commercial instant background check system is using the most complete criminal history database in the country, it will still only have information on 13 percent of the crimes. Additionally, we also need to take into account the estimated 30 percent error rate of instant background checks due to variances in the spelling of names, errors in DoB, and mistakes that occur in the data entry process. So what does all this mean for real estate agents? If a prospect rapes, assaults, or kills a real estate agent, is convicted, goes to jail, gets out, and calls an agent to show him a house and the agent runs an instant background check, the agent has approximately an 8 percent chance of finding out about the crime. Predatory Behavior In addition to the incompleteness of criminal history databases, the very nature of crime against real estate agents makes reliance on criminal background checks problematic. Crime against agents is predatory crime, committed by true predators, and meets all the classic predatory behavior patterns. Consider what someone has to do to attack a real estate agent: The predator must "shop" for a victim (it is actually called victim shopping), choose a victim, research the victim (this research is associated with a fantasy stage as well as forms a basis for planning), choose a site, come up with a plan on how to get the victim to be with him at the site, come up with a plan for how to get the victim isolated where he or she can't be seen or heard by others while they are at the site, execute on all of those things, and then they still have to make an attack. These are not random opportunistic crimes committed by impulsive careless people with extensive felonious criminal "rap sheets." Additionally, predatory behavior, including the crime, is a progressive, obsessive-compulsive behavior pattern similar to that of a binge alcoholic. A predator's motive is power and control; they get an "emotional high" off their crime and all the events that led up to the crime. When visiting with an agent, they intentionally exert "dominance." This dominance is what causes agents to have uncomfortable feelings. Studies into various types of predators have shed light into their behavior patterns and lack of any criminal history while committing multiple crimes. On average, a rapist will have 10 victims in his adult life. (One individual raped 26 agents in 13 years before he finally got caught on the 27th.) Source: Repeat Rape & Multiple Offending among Undetected Rapists Other studies—such as Weinrott & Saylor's Self-report of crimes committed by sex offenders, published in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence—have found that, on average, a rapist will have 11 victims prior to being arrested the first time and they estimate that unreported rapes range between 68 percent to 92 percent. Only 37 percent of people charged with rape had a previous felony conviction at the time they were arrested for rape the first time, accoridng to the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network. Fair Housing implications of background checks A discussion of instant criminal background checks would not be complete without considering the legal issues involved. Aside from the obvious legal implications of inaccurate reporting, according to the Supreme Court, the use of background checks may be a violation of the Fair Housing Act. In 2015, the Supreme Court ruled on Texas Department of Housing & Community Affairs v. Inclusive Communities Project, Inc. The opinion, written by Justice Kennedy, said that a party may prove violations of the Fair Housing Act by either showing intentional discrimination or that a certain practice has an adverse or "disparate impact" on protected classes. In a 2016 article entitled "What the Latest Fair Housing Guidance on Criminal Background Checks Means for Real Estate" about new HUD rulings, the National Association of Realtors said, "While persons with criminal records are not a protected class under the Fair Housing Act, HUD's recent guidance maintains that criminal history-based barriers to housing have a statistically disproportionate impact on minority groups. Because minorities are a protected class under the Fair Housing Act, HUD's guidance says that creating arbitrary or blanket criminal-based policies and restrictions could potentially violate the Fair Housing Act." Conclusions On the surface, running an instant criminal background check on prospects would seem like a sound practice. However, when you "look under the hood" and examine the completeness of criminal history databases, the error rate due to data variances, and the predatory nature of crime against agents, the effectiveness of background check systems in providing agents with "red flags" disappoints. Furthermore, instant criminal background checks pose a potential Fair Housing Act violation. Considering the lack of efficacy and potential Fair Housing issues, if an agent chooses to use instant background checks, he or she needs to do so with an understanding of the issues and risks involved. Lee Goldstein is the CEO of Real Safe Agent.  
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Tech Advice: How Safe Are Your Passwords?
When Yahoo! reported that someone hacked one billion of its accounts, it was a stunning revelation. Then it disclosed last fall that the names, dates of birth, email addresses, passwords and security questions and answers were compromised on all three billion of its accounts. For many, this news was devastating. That's because the vast majority of us use the same password or too close a variation of the same password for everything we access. Research also tells us that the average strength of our passwords is low. Also, most of us rarely change our passwords. In a 2017 survey, Keeper Security found over 80 percent of us reuse the same password, and nearly a third of us (29 percent) share a password with two or more people.
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Top 7 Safety Tips for Real Estate Agents
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The Browser Extension that Protects You from Facebook's Prying Eyes
There's been a lot of talk about Facebook lately--and we don't mean the run-of-the-mill "this is how you use Facebook to market your business" kind of talk. No, we mean the kind of talk that uses phrases like "Cambridge Analytica" and #deleteFacebook... in very angry tones. Facebook is under fire for violating users' privacy by allowing data firm Cambridge Analytica to access the personal information of millions of Facebook users, which the firm then used to influence elections across the globe, including in the U.S. So if you're concerned about your personal data in Facebook's hands, you're not alone. Facebook knows everything you do on their platform--and a lot about what you do even when you're off Facebook. While you can't prevent Facebook from knowing what you do while you're on Facebook, you can prevent it from tracking you while you're browsing the rest of the web. How? Well, that's thanks to a new browser extension called Facebook Container. The extension "contains" Facebook in a special browser tab that essentially isolates it from the rest of the internet--and therefore prevents Facebook from tracking you. It's like putting Facebook into a digital jail cell and forcing it to behave itself. Mo' zilla, mo' no problems Facebook Container is exclusive to Mozilla Firefox, as it takes advantage of a unique feature of the browser's architecture. (As does Firefox Multi-Account Containers, which protects your privacy across multiple sites--Google, Amazon, Twitter, etc.) If you haven't tried Firefox in a while, check it out. The browser underwent a major overhaul late last year, which doubled its speed, among other things. Firefox Quantum is the new version, and it's emerged as a serious challenger to Google Chrome's dominance in the browser wars. A few notes on privacy Online privacy is a complicated beast, so we thought we'd clear up few things about what this extension can and cannot do: Facebook Container makes it hard for Facebook to track your web browsing activities on third-party sites--but only when you're using the Firefox web browser. The extension is not available for other browsers like Chrome and Safari. Because the extension works on browsers only, Facebook Container cannot protect your phone from the Facebook app. (Your best protection from the Facebook mobile app is deleting it altogether. Then, you can use Firefox's mobile browser--with this extension installed--to access Facebook in a "Contained" tab.) If you click a Facebook Share button on a third-party website, it will automatically open in a contained tab. Just be aware that Facebook will know what you share when you use that button. If you use your Facebook credentials to log into other sites, they may not work with this extension. Same goes for Facebook comments and like buttons on third-party sites. This is because the extension deletes any cookies Facebook tries to store on your browser. This prevents Facebook from tracking you, but also makes it difficult to log into other sites with your Facebook ID. You can learn more about the Facebook Container extension in this post from the Firefox blog. Next Steps Firefox users: Download the Facebook Container extension Don't have Firefox? Get Firefox Quantum here Explore more Firefox browser extensions
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How Safe Is the Cloud?
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Geotagging: How It Can Put You at Risk, and 4 Ways to Stay Safe
Your safety with regards to technology is our concern. And at times we write about potential threats and provide you with resources, so you can stay safe. For this reason, today we write about the unpleasant side of geotagging. While geotagging can be fun and convenient, we believe it's important to be aware of how geotagging works. Because although we may like the benefits and convenience of it, there are also dangers that come with it.
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The Ultimate Guide to Email Security
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I H4TE [email protected]$$W0RD$!
We've all had that dreaded message appear, "Your password has expired, please create a new password." The IT folks that manage our systems tell us that we can't use the same password we've used before, it must contain special characters, it must x characters in length...ARGH!!! This is extremely frustrating. Don't they know that we have better things to spend our time on than remembering passwords and their archaic requirements? Being one of the aforementioned IT folks, I'd like to give you a few tips to make your life easier and hopefully even more secure.
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How Can You Make Your Data Safe?
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Friday Freebie: Realtor Safety Tool Identifies Dangerous Prospects
Weeding out dangerous prospects just got easier, thanks to a new member benefit from the National Association of Realtors. Now Realtors can not only verify the identity of clients before meeting them in person, but they can also see a score denoting that person's trustworthiness—and all in mere minutes. Introducing Trust Stamp, a free benefit from NAR NAR announced its partnership with identity verification tool Trust Stamp at its annual Realtors' Conference and Expo last weekend. Trust Stamp uses artificial intelligence to verify that a person is who they claim to be, and then taps into public records and social media to evaluate that individual's overall trustworthiness. The process is simple. Before meeting a client for the first time, Realtors send a request from Trust Stamp's interface requesting that the prospect create a profile to verify their identity. The prospect does this by submitting photos of themself and their government-issued ID, and linking at least one social media account to their profile. Trust Stamp then uses this information to confirm the prospect's identity, and rate their trustworthiness. The Realtor is provided a brief report with client's name, photo, and a color-coded numerical score that communicates how trustworthy they are. Based on the score, Realtors can decide whether or not to move forward with the prospect. Once they've reviewed a prospect's profile, the prospect's data is deleted from Trust Stamp's system, ensuring their privacy. Trust Stamp is a departure from typical safety apps, which are typically used to alert loved ones of an emergency or threatening situation. Trust Stamp, on the other hand, is the only app on the market that seeks to prevent potentially unsafe meetings from ever happening in the first place. Realtors can get started using Trust Stamp to protect themselves right away. Simply visit TrustStamp.net/RE and sign-in with your NRDS number to create your free account.
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9 Mobile Apps that Keep Realtors Safe During Showings
Realtors are increasingly turning to smartphone apps to keep them safe on the job, according to new research. NAR's 2017 Member Safety Report says that 44 percent of Realtors use a smartphone safety app, up from 42 percent in 2016. Real estate agents use these apps to track their location and alert designated contacts in case of an emergency. Women are more likely to use safety apps--48 percent of female agents report that they do, while only 34 percent of men say the same. So which are apps are most popular among Realtors? Here's what NAR's survey says:
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Are Lockboxes Safe? 7 Facts to Soothe Client Fears
Ever had a seller who balked at the idea of using a lockbox? If you're like most Realtors, you've probably fielded questions from homeowners concerned about leaving their house key hanging from a box on the front door. Is it safe, they wonder? Will it make their home more vulnerable to crime? If you're not sure how to answer, share these seven lockbox safety facts to put your clients' fears to rest.
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Realtor Safety: What NAR's 2017 Report Reveals
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Why Real Estate Agents Need to Think About Cyber Security
In a former life, Jason Frazier was an information security professional. Today, as the CIO of Mason McDuffie Mortgage and the @RealEstateCIO, he still takes it very seriously. He contributed this post after an exchange on a Facebook Group. I did a training class last year for Realtors on cyber cecurity. The subject was the wire fraud scam. This happens quite a bit in the mortgage industry, and it absolutely does not need to happen. I just read a post in another Facebook group where an agent's client lost $72k. In this scam, it is almost always the agent's email that is hacked or spoofed. Best Practices
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Knowing What These Tech Buzzwords Mean Could Save Your Real Estate Business
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It's Open House Season! 4 Key Tips to Stay Safe
Open houses are a great way to bring more attention to your property. Not only do open houses help clients get a feel for the home, they also help them visualize living there. For agents, open houses are a great way to meet new clients and close deals faster and more. But among all the benefits of open houses is a very real challenge: safety. Check out this list of tips to help ensure your safety during an open house: 1. Have more than one host Most open houses are manned by one agent. From planning to execution to clean-up, everything is coordinated by this lone agent. It's a lot to do and this could lead to something slipping through the cracks—and could even be dangerous. Always have an assistant or another agent to help you host. It will help keep things on track, and you'll also have more than one set of eyes on everyone coming and going. 2. Inform people Inform the local police station of your event—they might just drive around the area during the open house. This will give you a sense of security knowing help is nearby and accessible. Inform neighbors and ask them to keep an eye out for you. They will know if something is out of the ordinary. You could also have a call buddy. Inform this person that you will call/text them every hour, and if you miss one, they are to call you back. There's an app for that: Several, in fact. Use the safety features in apps you already use, like SentriSmart, or try a dedicated safety app like Real Safe Agent or Trusted Contacts by Google.
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3 Ways Your Lockbox Can Keep You Safe
A tool that real estate agents use every day could be a powerful ally in staying safe on the job. That's great news for REALTORS®, 77 percent of whom report being always or often alone when showing a home to a new prospect, according to the WAV Group Real Estate Victimization Study. In fact, 51 percent of REALTORS® would like more safety support from their brokerage or association—making safety the most requested support category. But did you know that one tool that your brokerage or association provides, the humble lockbox, can help you stay safer in the field? Let's take a look at how. 1. Tap Into Your Lockbox's Agent Safety Feature Technology has changed the lockbox for the better, enabling the introduction of all kinds of new functionality. Today, REALTORS® can use their smartphone not just to open and manage their lockbox, but also to signal for help when needed. Last October, NAR subsidiary SentriLock introduced an Agent Safety feature that alerts your emergency contacts when you're in danger. It works by setting a timer that starts upon opening a lockbox with the SentriSmart™ mobile app. After approximately 90 seconds, the app asks the agent to confirm their safety status. REALTORS® can choose to confirm their safety and reset the timer for approximately 120 seconds later, confirm their safety and turn off the prompt, or send an alert with their location, time the lockbox was accessed and the agent's phone number to their emergency contacts. If the agent doesn't respond to the alert within 120 seconds, the app automatically assumes something is wrong and sends an alert. The feature is opt-in, which means that SentriSmart™ users need to activate this feature one time first before using it. To turn on the Agent Safety feature, go to Settings in the SentriSmart™ app to turn on the service. There, you can choose which contacts should be notified in case of emergency.
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Staying Safe with Pepper Spray Technologies
The "foot fetish creep" is back in action again. He started calling on Arizona real estate agents in 2014 but more recently is targeting the women in the Houston area with phone inquiries that, at first blush, seem legitimate but quickly turn provocative. When this serial caller asks female agents to take off their shoes to boost cell phone reception, it's a clear signal that something is not right. However, most often, potential threats to an agent's safety are more ambiguous and Realtors should be prepared with a defense plan. Pepper spray is the most commonly carried self-defense solution among agents, but this technology is only valuable when it is convenient to carry, kept secure when not in use, and is part of a comprehensive safety plan. Agents never know when or where they might face a dangerous situation, so a pepper spray technology should be comfortably accessible while not arousing undue attention from clients. Luckily, there are a number of fashionably disguised pepper sprays resembling items that might be carried in a pocket or a handbag. For instance, the popular keychain-style pepper spray is not likely to provoke alarm with clients. Even more clever, some pepper sprays have the appearance of a pen or lipstick, which are discreet and casual to carry. The gel by SABRE is especially handy in close quarters, such as at a home showing, as is has no airborne particles when deployed.
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