Training on data protection in place at real estate firms

To prevent their agents from running afoul of Do Not Call (DNC) Registry rules that came into effect on Jan 2 this year, real estate agencies here have put in place training sessions, policies and hardware solutions to help them understand the rules under the Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA).

The Act, which came into full force on July 2, bars firms from marketing to phone numbers listed in the DNC Registry without first getting consent. On Wednesday (Sep 24), a Huttons Asia agent, Kuan Chow Sheng, was charged for breaching the rules after allegedly sending unsolicited telemarketing messages to telephone numbers registered with the DNC Registry.

Other real estate agencies such as PropNex and ERA said they hold compulsory briefing sessions for their property agents to ensure they understand the provisions of the PDPA.

“Our compliance officers will send emails regularly and speak at briefings for new projects to remind agents to comply with the DNC regulations,” said ERA Key Executive Officer Eugene Lim. He added that companies usually see a surge in telemarketing messages before new launches.

At the headquarters of both agencies, phones are linked to a system that bars calls from being made to numbers listed on the registry. The system updates itself as new numbers are listed. PropNex also encourages its agents to subscribe to SpiderGate, a paid service that screens their mobile phone contact lists for numbers listed on the registry.

PropNex Chief Executive Mohamed Ismail said about 1,000 sales agents in the company have subscribed to the service, which allows firms to filter out individuals listed on the company’s lists as having opted out of receiving telemarketing messages.

ERA’s Mr Lim said its agents are required to check their list of intended telemarketing recipients against the registry via an external vendor, which filters out phone numbers on the registry. However, every check costs money and some agents may decide to “cut corners” by doing it only once, he said.

He added that ERA has seen “minor cases of non-compliance”, where agents continue to market to past clients who have registered with the DNC Registry.

While these measures are in place, Mr Lim agreed that agents are primarily left to exercise their own discretion. “We have made these services available to help agents comply with the rules. I believe Kuan Chow Sheng’s case will wake everybody up,” he said.

Source : Channel NewsAsia – 25 Sep 2014

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