Four things a real estate agent needs to know about the Australian privacy principle laws

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May 8, 2014
3
min read

On the 12th of March this year, there were some significant shifts in the Australian Privacy Principle; laws that govern the collection and storage of contact information. There’s no doubt that this effects the real estate industry in a big way and now is a good time to make sure your processes are up to date. However, it can seem difficult to work out what will be affected, and what you should be doing about it.

So what's changed?

Firstly, there was a name change. The National Privacy Principles and Information Privacy Principles have become the Australian Privacy Principles (APP). Following a steady increase in consumer complaints over the misuse of personal information, it was time for an update of the outdated privacy laws which had remained unchanged since the pre-internet 1980's.For an agent, it is essential that your stakeholders know the 'ins and outs' of where their details will go, should they choose to hand them over.

Where Should You Start?

1. Create a Privacy Policy

The first step is to ensure you have a Privacy Policy. This needs to be easy for people to access, available on your website and upon request. To sum things up a little, your Privacy Policy should include:

  • What kind of information you're collecting.
  • How you got it.
  • Why you need it.
  • How they can check on it.
  • What your stance is on sending information offshore.

People want to remain relatively in control of their information and its distribution. Moving forward, it's essential that you make people aware when you are collecting new or updated data about them. Similarly, if you’re contacting them because you got their details from a third party, you need to inform them of that also. If anyone has complaints about your treatment of their information, or has queries about your Privacy Policy, they need to be able to contact you easily.

2. Audit Your Data

Because the APP gives individuals the right to access their details at any time, it’s best to be prepared. A data audit, while a potentially lengthy process, is worth the effort to ensure all your information is up to date. If you do find that changes need to be made within your company, once again, letting your database know could save you down the road. After all, we want to show prospects and clients that we have their backs, as well as their names, numbers and email addresses.

3. Ensure you have a Preference Centre for Direct Mail

The APP has a particular focus on the use of an individual's details for direct marketing. One recommended solution to help make your services as consumer-friendly as possible is a Preference Centre. Providing prospects with a list of the potential uses you will have for their information or options of what they can receive from you, allows them to handpick their involvement, simplifying things for both parties.Similarly, approaching current clients with your Preference Centre will pay off. As current clients realise they can tailor their involvement with you to suit them, you’ll reduce the likelihood of them receiving contact they don't want.If you're with Rex you don't need to worry, all emails that you send from the system already have a Preference Centre.

4. Check Your Tech

The new Australian Privacy Principle laws were ultimately brought in to cater to the incredible technical advances over the past few years. As keen adopters of tech, the entire real estate industry will come under scrutiny, so it's pretty important to be on top of these changes. Whether it's mailing lists, cold calling or some kind of new medium we haven't even thought of yet, the safest way to ensure your stakeholders are happy with what you're doing with their information is by keeping them in the loop.

What effect will the Australian Privacy Principle laws have on Rex?

Rex operates as your CRM system and stores your data in the cloud, but Rex never has and never will contact any of the collected contact details of customers – we just look after it for you. We also store all of your data in Australia, so you won't have to worry about the offshore rules. If you have any other questions or queries, let us know at support@rexsoftware.com.Finally, while we only have your best interests at heart, this is not legal advice, and you should definitely contact your friendly legal professional before making any decisions.

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