The latest safety apps offer ways for people to feel less alone when they are afraid, but are these apps really safe, or do they lull you into a false sense of security? Apps like Companion are great for walking alone as they offer a way to alert friends and family of your last known location in case the worst happens.
However, walking down a dark road afraid of unknown assailants is not the same as meeting a prospect at a pre-determined time and place. General purpose safety apps like Companion, BeSafe, Safe Trek, Bugle, and others, are wonderful, but they should be not replace other available preventative measures. These apps are inventive and helpful in most situations, but Realtors may need something more to ensure their safety.
What preventative measure should be taken
By relying too heavily on safety apps, users can be lulled into a false sense of security, assuming this will work for every situation. While they are a wonderful safety step, it should not be your only step. Rather than waiting for something to happen and then pressing the “panic button” on your app (which you may not have time to do in some situations), what if you took an additional step before you ever met your prospective client?
Pre-screening a client gives you more information. It allows you to make a decision about meeting a client before you put yourself in a potentially dangerous situation. For example, Verify Photo ID is a safety app that allows you, or your Broker, to screen prospects before meeting with them in person. Your prospect provides their driver’s license and then information is collected and stored. If you are uncomfortable asking for this information, Verify Photo ID suggests saying, “It’s my Broker’s policy that we ask for identification before showing.” Many other industries do this to ensure safety and security.
The prospect is sent a text link that allows them to submit their photo ID. It is then verified by Verify Photo ID and you are provided with the prospect’s financial and demographic data, as well as, whether or not they appear on the national sex offender’s list. The app will also pull information from the prospect’s social media accounts.
After verification, Verify Photo ID then takes this one step further by integrating a safety monitor into the app so that after verification, you can alert someone if a showing goes wrong. The distress alerts that are sent contain the verified name and address of the prospect, along with their DMV photo and their exact location as determined from the integrated geo-location tool.
Completing your toolbox
While the general safety apps are certainly something you want in your Realtor toolbox, they should not be the only tools that you carry. Pre-screening clients is an additional step that should be taken to ensure your safety when showing alone. Verify Photo ID is just one of the tools to add to your superstar toolbox.
You should already be carrying a gut instinct: if something doesn’t feel right, don’t go, or remove yourself from the situation as soon as possible. However, by pre-screening clients, you should be able to have enough information about the client to make a better judgment as to whether or not you want to show them. It is certainly a step in the right direction to ensuring Realtor safety.