If you are new to mystery shopping, you may be a bit timid about jumping head first into this job because of all of the rumors and stories circulating about identity theft. Identity theft is a real threat, and it has cost millions of people money, time, and grief in recent years. This goes for mystery shoppers and non-mystery shoppers alike. As mystery shoppers, however, our work is conducted over the internet with people we likely will never meet. We swipe our credit cards more often than other people simply because it is our job to purchase goods and services. Our job by nature simply puts at a greater risk for identity theft than other jobs do. So what do you need to know that can help you keep identity theft from affecting you?
Stash the Card. Did you know that a lot of credit card information is stolen by the cashiers and clerks at stores and restaurants? They simply have a small machine hidden under the stand or to the side of the register and make a second swipe of your card on that machine without you being aware. That machine copies all of your information and stores it away for others to use without your knowledge! This is one of the most savvy and common methods of identity theft, and you can absolutely prevent it from happening to you by simply using cash for your purchases.
Paying for purchases with the swipe of your phone is also becoming more common as well. It is only a matter of time before thieves learn how to take advantage of that method to steal from you as well. To be safe, leave the electronic payment options at home, and use the good ol’ greenbacks.
Don’t Give Out Your Social Security Number. Many new mystery shoppers have a concern about offering providers their social security number. There is a good reason for your concern, as you should always be cautious about who you provide your personal information to. Even when you provide your information to a legitimate company, there is always the chance that the provider’s computer system can be hacked and your information stolen. To be safe, you can consider setting up a company name and using a business tax ID number for your mystery shopping business. This makes it much more difficult for the bad guys to steal your identity and cause you grief.
Check Your Credit. Taking precautions to protect your identity will certainly add some layers of security and protection, but nobody is completely safe. You should get into the habit of checking your credit report regularly to verify that all of the information on your report is accurate. If you spot an account that isn’t yours, see balances that are too high, and so forth, notify the credit reporting agency and the company in question immediately. Also keep in mind that there are three credit bureaus, and each one may report different accounts. So you will need to check all three bureaus to get an accurate idea of your credit picture.
Reading these tips may cause some alarm and may make you think that mystery shopping just isn’t worth the risk. The fact is that thousands of mystery shoppers do hundreds of jobs each year and never have an issue with identity theft. However, there is the risk, and so you should take precautions to keep yourself safe.