Red-faced estate agent is forced to apologise after 3D tour of house for sale revealed sellers’ private information including financial paperwork, unblurred family photos and pets’ names
- Unblurred family photos and financial documents were visible in the 3D tour
- The Devon property posted by on Rightmove by Fowlers, which has apologised
- Fowlers said items had ‘slipped past’ the company and had now been removed
An estate agent has been forced to apologise after exposing the seller’s personal information in a virtual house tour.
Unblurred family photos and financial documents were publicly visible in the 3D tour posted on Rightmove by Devon-based Fowlers.
Confidential items such as a shares dividend cheque and an insurance policy paper and the names of beloved pets could be easily read by zooming in.
Fowlers said the personal information had ‘slipped past’ both the company and the homeowner – and has since been removed along with all other virtual tours ‘just in case’.
Confidential items such as a shares dividend cheque and an insurance policy paper and the names of beloved pets could be easily read by zooming in (low-res version pictured)
Unblurred family photos and financial documents were publicly visible in the 3D tour posted by on Rightmove by Devon-based Fowlers (blurred version pictured)
The home, which has been live on Rightmove since October 2020, according to the BBC, is one of a number of properties using 3D tours to showcase to buyers
Lockdown has meant many would-be homeowners have been unable to peruse prospective houses in person, leaving agencies to increasingly turn to 3D visits.
Philip Fowler, the estate agency’s owner, vowed to be ‘more diligent in the future.’
He added that Fowlers regards clients privacy as paramount and that the seller had given express permission for the video to be added to the advertisement.
The 3D tour of the Devon property was first pointed out by Carole Theriault, co-host of the Smashing Security podcast, who warned that such viewing methods could be exploited by criminals.
She said: ‘It’s a treasure trove of private data — a veritable goldmine for identity thieves, phishers, you name it.’
The home, which has been live on Rightmove since October 2020, is one of a number of properties using 3D tours to showcase to buyers
Under current coronavirus restrictions, buyers are allowed to visit the property but must wear a face mask.
However Government guidance stresses that ‘initial viewing should be done virtually wherever possible’, and agents are encouraged to facilitate online tours.
Mr Fowler said: ‘We take our client’s privacy very seriously and ask each vendor who agrees to have a tour to check it through before launching specifically to avoid this sort of thing and check them through ourselves as well.
‘We had verbal permission to use this one but clearly the items you have mentioned slipped past both the client and ourselves and I am pleased that you have let us know about it.
‘We would have been pleased to talk to the person who noticed it as well and then it could have been dealt with even more quickly.
‘We have notified the client and withdrawn all the other tours, just in case, whilst we check them over.
‘Before we record the tours we ask all our clients to ensure that they remove any sensitive documents and photos that they would not be happy seeing on the internet.
‘Our operative would have assumed that anything sensitive had been removed, but as you know one should never assume. We will be even more diligent in the future.’
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