The Phil Leng Team: June 2014

Real Estate Transactions and Consumer Privacy



What I thought I didn’t want them (big companies) to know about me (except on Facebook, LinkedIn, et al).


HERE’S WHAT CNN’s investigative arm seems to think:


The Secret Eyes Watching You Shop - Be it Ready Whip for your Strawberries and Angel Food Cake or Real Estate and the home accessories you insist on.


Who doesn't like getting those retail discounts or free gift coupons from their favorite stores?  (Or Seller-paid closing costs or repair expenses after your home inspection discloses…)


But did you know there were strings attached, invisible eyes tracking your every consumer move? And there's little you can do to stop it.


We want to do something about that.  (Says Edith Ramirez of CNN)  We at the Phil Leng Team of Keller Williams Eastside Real Estate concur.


As part of the Privacy Act and our own Keller Williams transparency in business credo we keep your information as private as allowed by law.  And then some.  We strive to earn your loyalty for the rest of your life - and the loyalty of those you refer to us.  Only happens when you are quite satisfied with our performance AND integrity.  The former can be readily accomplished by many folks in the real estate professions, the latter only by those committed by lifestyle and conscience.  


Businesses have long sought to attract and retain customers by recording and analyzing your shopping and lifestyle habits. To do so, they often rely on "data brokers" -- companies that collect and share our personal information and label us based on what they learn. And they do this mostly without our knowledge.information and label us based on what they learn. And they do this mostly without our knowledge.


That fashionable handbag you found on sale? They know about it. That great deal you got on the BBQ grill from the hardware store? They're tracking that too. And that box of Cheerios? They already assumed you were going to buy that before you even entered the store.


The information you provide during the real estate process can make the data miners job all the easier.  Unless you insist (to each real estate professional, your real estate agent first and foremost)  that your personal, financial and professional information NOT be share outside of the legally required destination, such as the bank/lender providing the bulk of the finance for your home purchase or your financial acquisition from the proceeds of closing your sale.


This is another part of your agents responsibility:  To help you protect your information as much as possible as conveniently as possible.  Your agent is not just a taxi driver or a recipient of real estate offers on your home for sale.  Your agent provides an extensive group of services to not only facilitate the transaction but to encourage your information education for your privacy protection as you wish.  Ask your agent about the details.  Or ask the CEO of the Phil Leng Team, our Team Broker, Phil Leng.  


To continue:


There's no question that the personal information that data brokers sell to retailers, financial firms, hotels, airlines and other businesses can provide benefits to consumers and our growing digital economy. It can help direct goods and services that are tailored to our interests and assisting businesses to combat fraud by verifying consumers' identities.


Phil Leng and his Team endorse an oath to protect your information as well as provide the best possible professionalism available in real estate.


Data Brokers, on the other hand, take information and use it to lump us into various, shorthand categories like "Affluent Baby Boomer" and "Bible Lifestyle."

But if a data broker categorizes you as an "Urban Scrambler," meaning a low-income minority, are you more likely to receive an offer for a payday loan than a home loan?  


It may appear that discrimination could be alive and well through well-chosen verbiage and nomenclature.


What are the implications of being labeled as "financially challenged?" Will it mean you are cut off from being offered the same goods and services, at the same prices, as your neighbors?  Do you want a company to know that you have diabetes, high cholesterol, or another medical condition as long as it is willing to pay the going rate for health data?


Most Americans don't even know that data brokers exist, let alone that they collect and trade a staggering amount of our personal data. Brokers operate invisibly, buying and selling data about us without interacting directly with us. Too few offer easy ways for us to access our information or opt-out of their system of data collection.


This week, the FTC has called on Congress to improve the transparency of the data broker industry, and to provide consumers more control over their personal information. We also recommend that Congress require data brokers to create a centralized website, among other measures, so that consumers can access their own data and opt out of data collection and retention.  Data brokers should be required to take reasonable steps to ensure consumer information is not used for unlawful purposes, such as to illegally discriminate.


We need better transparency into how data brokers collect and use our personal information to help ensure that we not go down a path that leads to unfair exclusion, but rather one that widens opportunities for all consumers.

The Phil Leng Team


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Comment balloon 0 commentsPhil Leng • June 07 2014 08:47PM
Real Estate Transactions and Consumer Privacy
DATA MINING ALIVE AND DIGGING - PRIVATE COMPANIES COULD SELL TO THE NSA TO IMPROVE THEIR INFO BASE! or What I thought I didn’t want them (big companies) to know about me (except on Facebook, LinkedIn, et al). HERE’S WHAT… more