Don’t Be A Target: Hire Smart
After having a negative experience from hiring a handyman online, I’ve been asked by many of my friends, family, and concerned local citizens, to write a new blog post about safety concerns when hiring from online.
This blog will be similar in nature to my previous blog titled: “Don’t Be A Target: Travel Smart” which I would highly recommend you read if you haven’t. It highlights the dos/don’ts of traveling throughout the United States and overseas.
Now back to the meat and potatoes of Don’t Be A Target: Hire Smart.
As many of you may know, I hired a handyman recently to fix a faulty door at my residence. I visited the popular website Home Advisor, entered my information and the job I needed assistance with. A few hours later, I received a text from a local number, stating “Do you still need a home repair pro?”
I replied “yes” and we scheduled a time for him to complete the repairs. After “no-showing” at our agreeable upon time, he finally arrive the following day.
As I always do, I met the worker outside of my residence so I could see what vehicle he arrived in. From the minute he stepped out of his vehicle (he was the passenger, female driver stayed in the driver’s seat and remained parked in front of my residence), I had a bad feeling about him and the situation. I don’t mean to stereo-type anyone but when you’re expecting Santa Clause to show up and the Easter Bunny comes hopping up…. Well you get the picture.
After remembering a good description of the vehicle and the “handyman,” I invited him inside and escorted him to my faulty door. From the moment he entered my kitchen, I could tell he had no knowledge of handyman repairs and my door wasn’t getting fixed with the one screwdriver he had in his back pocket.
After I made it very obvious that I wasn’t falling for his scam, I asked him to confirm his company name that I was assigned from Home Advisor. After a brief pause, he stated a company name that didn’t match. At this point, I moved from about 10 feet away to about 3 feet away and stood there with my arms crossed and gave him that look we’ve all gotten from our parents at one time or another when we were late for curfew. You know that look, “the one you get when they say, hey your story has more holes than Swiss cheese buddy.”
While this was happening with me inside, unbeknownst to me (after viewing my security cameras) the female driver had exited their vehicle and was standing outside my residence with an empty duffle bag.
I think at this point, he was far more uncomfortable than I was and he stated he needed to go to his vehicle to get a drill. He exited my residence quickly, motioning to the female to get in the vehicle and they quickly sped away. Drawing the attention of a few neighbors outside, from their erratic driving.
After filing a police report and continuing to further investigate their identity, I was able to find out that he has a criminal record a mile long for doing just this. Theft, assault, scamming, credit card fraud, and a few others across multiple states.
Tips To Hiring Safe
Although there are plenty of small businesses across America that provide a great service to our economy and neighborhoods, unfortunately that is where a lot of bad businesses can survive.
It’s important that you do a few of these tips to best prepare yourself and not be a victim.
- Ask the company you are hiring:
What is the name of the employee they are sending?
Will the employee be wearing a uniform?
Will the employee have a company ID badge? (some small businesses don’t have uniforms or badges but you can ask to see a driver’s license)
Will the employee arrive in a company truck? What does it look like?
Has the company ran a background check on that employee?
- Meet the employee outside to witness what vehicle they arrive in and verify their identity before allowing them to enter your residence. If any of this doesn’t match, just call the business and verify the employee at your residence. They might have had a schedule change and had to send someone different.
- After verifying the employee, escort them to the area where they are working and remain there for the work period. If they are going to work for a long period of time, it might not be feasible to remain there the entire time but check on them frequently.
- Remove all valuables from sight and close all doors except for the working area.
- If the situation becomes uncomfortable or doesn’t seem right, don’t try to confront the employee. Exit your residence and either call the company or 911. That decision is up to your discretion, depending on the severity of the situation. If the situation is hostile, don’t worry about protecting your belongings, just get out and call 911.
- Ask the company before the employee arrives, what the total charges will be and payment methods. Many small businesses will only accept cash or check due to high credit card charges. So cash and checks are normal for small businesses. If you pay in cash, ALWAYS ASK FOR A RECEIPT.
- If possible, write down or take a photo of the employees vehicle and license plate.
- Allow the employee to enter your residence without verifying them first.
- If possible, don’t allow them to roam around your residence without being present. This may not be possible and will be your choice in giving them permission to be unattended.
- Pay with cash or check and not get a receipt.
- Agree to pay more than the stated charge without verifying the changes with the main company.
- Agree to pay for services in exchange for the employee to return to your residence at a later time to continue/finish the original job.
- Some companies will conduct a service call to establish the deficiency first, order needed parts, and then return to fix the issue. This is normal but up to your discretion as to the validity of the issue and if the company is a reputable company. This creates an opportunity for a bad company to state they need money to order parts and then never return once you pay them.
- Don’t try to stop an employee from stealing. Just exit your residence and call the main company or 911.
- If something negative does happen and you aren’t able to identify the employee, try to remember what objects the employee touched for fingerprint evidence.
Proper Security Camera Placement
Modern day security cameras are getting pretty sophisticated and are viewable through wifi on your computer or phones. If at all possible, aim your cameras to cover not only your exterior doors but also driveway and streets. Sometimes the resolution isn’t the greatest on such small cameras but they can still gather a good general description of all involved and vehicles.
Mount your cameras high enough, so they can’t be hit or destroyed without someone using a ladder or long pole.
Test your camera’s angles. Walk around your property and then view your camera footage. Are you able to get a good face ID photo? Do you cameras overlap and provide complete 360 degree coverage of your property. A camera facing a main street is just as important as a camera covering your fenced in yard. Someone can talk their way out of why they walked through your front yard, but can’t explain why they hopped over your fence.
Well, I hope these tips help you out if you ever decide to hire someone from online. Remember, stay vigilant and if it doesn’t feel right, get out and call 911.
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