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October is Cyber Security Awareness Month

Cybercrime can be devastating to real estate professionals and their clients, and real estate wire fraud continues to be one of the most prevalent cybercrimes in the U.S. About 13,638 people were victims of wire fraud in the real estate and rental sector in 2020 (a 17% increase over 2019) with losses of more than $213 million), according to FBI data. That ranks real estate and rental wire fraud #7 out of more than 30 types of fraud tracked by the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center. 

Additionally, Technology has dramatically increased the amount of consumer data collected and used by businesses. Several recent high profile data breaches, coupled with a high rate of identity theft crime has made data security and consumer privacy a hot issue for policymakers in Washington. 

So, how do you protect yourself and your clients? According to the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®, “creating a data security program for your business means implementing and maintaining reasonable safeguards to protect the security, confidentiality, and integrity of data, including proper disposal of the data.”  Suggestions on how to do this range from something as simple as using encrypted email and frequently changing your passwords to more complex solutions like reviewing your current insurance coverage, and asking your insurance agent about cyber insurance and the availability and applicability of products such as social engineering fraud endorsements and computer & electronic crime riders. 

Whatever level of cybersecurity solution you choose for your business, recognize that this type of crime is on the rise and can threaten you and your clients. For more recommendations from the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® see their cybersecurity checklist here.