Can I trust a virtual assistant with personal information?

If you’re nervous about being able to trust a virtual assistant to deal with personal information, here’s something to think about.

Who do you trust most? The assistant who’s been with you for years helping you on numerous tasks, or the new team member?

Your long-time cleaner, or the plumber who’s dropped in to service your boiler?

And who do you keep a closer eye on?

If you’re like most people, you’d probably trust your long-standing colleague and your cleaner. But consider this: do you know they’re trustworthy, or have you assumed it because you’ve never had evidence to the contrary?

And consider this: who has the most chance of defrauding you without you noticing, and getting away with it?

Who knows your systems, the things you pay attention to and the things you skim over? Who knows best what you won’t notice? And if they did decide to steal from you, or defraud you, how long would it take you to notice, or believe it?

Of course, building relationships is essential, as is trusting those around you.

The important thing is never to allow anyone complete freedom without any expectation of being found out. Whether it’s at work or at home, whether it’s a long-term colleague or a new virtual assistant, fraud is much less likely to happen when someone knows they have a good chance of being spotted. Be unpredictable in when and what you check or question, know approximately what you expect (in, say, a bank balance), and don’t ever wash your hands entirely of big decisions. Use tools and technology to help you: such as password protection service LastPass, which allows you to give a secondary password for a site to a team member or assistant which you can change or revoke at any time.

Basic checks are also important. That might be a company’s reputation, an individual’s references or whether someone is data protection registered and insured, as well as your gut feeling about the people you’ll be working with.

Be sensible, too, with what you share. You may decide never, for instance, to give out your date of birth or your online banking details. You might divide up sensitive projects between different assistants so that no one has full information.

Be cautious, by all means. But don’t miss the chance to get help with your most personal matters in your life or business. Because you’re much more likely to be safer with someone new than you might at first imagine.

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