A new work revolution has dawned in the last few years. This revolution has allowed thousands of people to work from home, set their own hours, and more importantly be with their families a lot more often.
What is this new way of working? It is called Cyber Agents and many companies are starting to contract people to take customer service calls from their own homes. When you call to order a new gadget you see on tv you will most likely be talking to a traditional call-center employee, but every now and then you might actually get a cyber agent who works from their home.
*It has been estimated that there are more than 100,000 cyber agents who work in the US and that trend is expected to grow to 10% of all call centers by 2006.
What that means to your credit card security is really nothing different in my opinion. Every legitimate cyber agent company requires background checks. After working in call centers for the past 10 years I was recently hired to work from home by a famous cyber agent company. Unlike my previous jobs working in call centers, this cyber agent job required that I pass a thorough background check. I was also required to pass a job compatibility module that tested my honesty and personality levels.
This sort of thorough testing has never been done to me in traditional call centers where an application and a quick interview is all that is needed to land a job. The reason is because in traditional call centers your supervisors and co-workers are right there to see you. Being a cyber agent doesn’t free you from supervision though. Every call is taped and reviewed and every order I take is logged in the computer so it can always be traced back to me if there are any issues.
That brings me to the safety of your information when and if you should ever get a cyber agent taking your order over the phone. As with any industry, there will always be a few “bad apples” that can settle in with the rest. You should protect your information as well as you would if you handed your credit card to the waitress in a restaurant.
Keep all of your receipts from credit card purchases. And in the case of using your information over the phone, ask if there is any confirmation number they can give you to write down. If not, then take the name of the person taking your order, write the amount you authorized your card to be charged, write down the date and time you called. When your statement comes in, compare the charge with what you had written down.
When you do order over the phone, make sure you are speaking in a private area, away from strangers. Limit those types of transactions to your home, car, or office. That way a passing stranger can’t overhear your credit card number, expiration date, and your name. Use good judgment and be a savvy consumer to help avoid the theft of your information.
And as experts tell people to do all the time anyways, watch your statement closely every month for any unauthorized spending or odd purchases that come up.
Using a cyber agent is no different then when you give your credit card information to a waiter, gas attendant, or on an order form for a catalog so there is nothing to worry about. As more and more people come under threat for identity theft and credit card theft because of careless dealings by credit card companies and banks, ordering something off the television and giving your information to an at-home cyber agent is much safer.
The precautions that cyber agent companies take when hiring contractors, is extreme and shouldn’t be taken lightly. For consumers it is convenient to shop from their own homes, for cyber agents it is convenient to work from home, and for major corporations who are rolling their call centers into home-based centers it is financially convenient. Together we will continue to make it safe for every customer who shops over the phone.
*Sources: IDC research report on homeshoring