Hands up how many people have had a cold call letter from a letting or estate agent addressed to you personally at home (touting for your property business) and wondered how on earth they got your name and home address. You may even have received such a letter from Us!
Well like it or not (and there are always mixed opinions on this form of marketing) the digital age in which we live enables anyone, not just an agent, with a little ingenuity to track down your information. Some people feel this is sinister, others will say its just being enterprising but this is information which is all publicly available.
These are the 3 easy steps an agent takes to get your information:-
1) Find out the specific address of the property in question. It used to be the case that an agent would look at your current agents web-listing to ascertain the street its located in and then drive by to find the number.
2) The driving bit is now largely superflous as thanks to Google Street Maps, the number is readily available.
3) Pay £4 to HM Land Registry and search their ownership details for your name and home address.
There is another fairly easy step which often yields additional information and that is to google your name and address. This can often throw up a home or mobile telephone number depending on how much of your private or public life you have exposed to the internet (whether consciously or not).
Should you be concerned by an agent doing this? The answer is like the answer to most things in life; "it depends". It depends on what the enquirer to doing with the information, if its only to write you a letter and offer you services which could well be of use to you, then no definitely not. You should be concerned if the writer of the letter is a non-regulated agent who hasn't bothered to register with the Data Protection authorities (i.e. The Information Commissioners Office ICO) as you can't be certain what else they're doing with your information. After all, the gathering of the info will probably have cost them about £10 and they won't want to throw that away if the data can be on-sold elsewhere.
You'll be pleased to know if you receive a letter offering you letting assistance or, indeed, a phone call from Martin & Co in Norwich, you can rest assured we've contacted you with the best of intentions and being properly registered with the ICO, we won't be sharing your information with anyone else.
Just as an aside, Step 3 above sometimes falls down, as the owner registers their address as the address of the property in question. This is a big mistake and while it does have the effect of you never receiving such an agent's letter, it can leave you wide open to property or identity fraud. But that's another story for another day..........