Marketing

How your marketing materials pose a threat

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Takeaways:

  • If enough of you is out there, then it won’t be hard for a dangerous person to figure out where you live.
  • You should use an 800 number that goes to your company’s office — call forwarding has been around for years.
  • Your business card and advertising information should have only your 800 number, your company’s name and only your first name.

As a real estate professional, you must answer this question: How much of you is out there for all to see? Blogs? Association websites? Glamour photos of yourself in magazines and online? Billboards, even?

Some agents’ business cards have everything on them but the kitchen sink.

If enough of you is out there, then it won’t be hard for a dangerous person to figure out where you live. Thank you, Google.

Of course, Google isn’t necessary if the sociopath does a reverse search on you by using your cellphone number. (An 800 number cannot be traced to your home address.)

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In fact, your ads and business cards should have only one number: an 800 number that goes to your company’s office — don’t forget, call forwarding has been around for years.

Even the fax number can be traced to your address. Clients can fax to your office.

I know you’re eager to make sales, but no client call can be so earth-shakingly urgent that you can’t get by on one number — the 800 number. And remember, you can always have it forwarded to your cellphone.

You might think that the number of real estate agents who actually are accosted, or worse, by deviants posing as buyers is too small to be concerned about, but realize that many agents have survived attacks or have thwarted what likely would have been a crime.

These cases usually don’t make the news. Headlines like “Woman murdered when showing vacant home” get more attention than “Woman drives to police station after noticing home shopper following her.”

Your business card and advertising information, in addition to the 800 number, should have only your company’s name and only your first name. A photo is not necessary. Come on, do you really think you’ll get that big sale because you have perfect teeth?

And by the way, consider altering your first name as a variation of the name that appears in your home address records.

So, if your first name is Elizabeth, and if all your friends and family, even co-workers, call you Liz, use a variation that’s strictly for buyers: Beth, Libby, Betsy, Bettie, Eliza, Liza, etc.

For another layer of security, remove your name from the phone book.

Then Google your name and further refine your security by removing whatever you can from cyberspace that can be used against you.

And as for those glamour shots? I’ll be honest. You might think you’re a ravishing beauty, and maybe you are (and hence you will get noticed quickly by weirdos poring over the agent ads), but more times than not, you look silly.

So that’s two reasons to be inspired to use a professional-looking image that makes you look intelligent and skillful, rather than looking like you’re made up for clubbing.

Always keep tabs on what information about you is out there, even if it’s information you put out there. Be aware that people might use it for harm, and be vigilant.

Robert Siciliano is CEO of IDTheftSecurity.com and a personal security and identity theft expert.

Email Robert Siciliano.