I had a big marketing project in a real estate office of a large national chain several years ago. I saw a lot of questionable practices there. Since their deals can sometimes involve $50,000- in commissions there seemed to be a lot of ‘situational ethics’.
One of the processes at the time was that everyone got a ‘free’ company branded email account. I was told that they monitor everyone’s e-mail and sometimes follow up on their leads. The justification was that they owned the branded e-mail accounts and had the right to monitor them. If an agent moved to another brokerage their old e-mail account would be monitored for any potential leads, not forwarded to their new address.
Faxing was more popular then. It was used for various marketing and prospecting activities. Incoming faxes were placed in a basket where everyone would search through to see if there was something for them. Often, it was personal financial info from customers. However, sometimes there would be a sales lead. Those seemed to often go missing. I recommended that we do a test by sending in a fake lead to a specific Realtor and see who called back. Sure enough, one of the top producers somehow got the lead and called me back, even though it was addressed to another agent. The brokerage owner didn’t want to confront his top producer so he never took any action. All around, the office was a jungle where your data was not safe.
In current times we are a bit more cautious. However, there are still those company branded free email accounts. Some agents have moved to g-mail accounts but that’s not really the proper platform for personal financial data to be shared.
Today, the safest way to run a business that involves sharing a lot of personal financial data is to use a private domain based e-mail where no one else controls access to the account. And, of course, an online fax account that flows directly into your private e-mail account.
Here’s an interesting article on how to create a secure password.