I started a whole slew of new tests, so I’ll be posting about those soon. However, I thought now would be a good time to talk about side hustle safety.
Why Side Hustles Can Be Dangerous
The thing about side hustles is you never know who or what you’re dealing with. There’s an ease to doing side hustles, but never let your guard down. Having work at your fingertips is awesome, but it can also put in you in unsafe situations you are not prepared for.
You may come across people you’re not prepared to deal with or you may end up in a sketchy neighborhood you normally would not go to. And that’s not even dealing with the risk of identity theft.
Which is why I am very cautious about all of the side hustles I do. I follow some strict rules I set for myself both online and when I’m out in the real world.
Physical Safety While Doing Side Hustles
1. I conduct all of my business during the day.
As my son’s favorite superhero Batman can attest to, criminals like conducting business in the dark of night. That’s why I make sure any side hustle I do happens during the day.
I never deliver for Amazon after dark. I will never deliver Door Dash during dinner hours. I will never drive Lyft at night. In my eyes, it’s just asking for something bad to happen.
2. I meet in a public place.
99 times out of 100, the person I meet is totally cool. I just don’t want to take that risk with the 1 person out of 100. That’s why I always meet in public places. I love using my local Target or Walmart parking lot because they’re always busy. Some of my local police stations offer safe meeting places as well. Gas stations are also a good choice. No matter what I choose, it’s a place where there’s a lot of foot traffic.
3. I carry personal protection.
I’m talking about something you feel comfortable taking and using on another person. My preferred method of personal protection is pepper spray. It’s something I keep in my glovebox. It’s out of reach of my kids, but there when I need it. If I’m meeting someone, such as a meet up for WeGoLook or a delivery for Amazon Flex, I slide the pepper spray into my pocket just in case.
Protecting Your Information
When you’re side hustling at home, you need to keep your personal information safe. That’s why I’ve developed these little rules for myself
1. I protect my social security number (SSN).
I have tested out dozens of side hustles so far and I can count on one hand the number of times I have given out my social security number. If a company asks me for my SSN, I stop what I’m doing and I usually stop the side hustle. There’s no good reason for a company to have my social.
2. I have a PayPal account, you should too.
If I can swing it, I will always get paid through PayPal. That’s because all I need to provide is an email address. There’s no account number or routing number.
I also make sure to transfer money out of my PayPal account and into my bank account frequently. I never keep a large amount of money in my PayPal account.
3. I never give out my real bank account.
Some side hustles won’t pay through PayPal, they want to do direct deposit instead. Direct deposit saves them money because they don’t have to cut a check and it saves you time because you get your money faster. It’s a win-win situation.
Trouble is, next to my social security number, my bank account and routing numbers are my most protected assets.
That’s why I have a second bank account for my side hustles. It’s an account number I don’t mind giving out because there’s not much money in it. Every month, I transfer the money out of that account and into my actual bank account.
I have a free account with CapitalOne 360. It has everything I need and no fees. You don’t have to use CapitalOne, but make sure whatever second account you open has no fees and no required balance. There’s no reason to spend money to make money.
4. I track my mileage.
With a lot of these side hustles, you are called an “Independent Contractor”. That means you don’t work for the company, you work for yourself and the company is paying you to do a specific task.
Independent contractor also means you are responsible for reporting and paying the taxes on your earnings. To help offset those taxes owed, I track the miles I drive during a side hustle. If you report your side hustle income, you can usually write off the mileage you used to get to and from the job.
This works especially well with a side hustle like Amazon Flex, where the company is paying you to drive around and deliver things. That 30 miles you spent driving is something you should be able to write off.
5. I keep my personal information personal.
As I’ve said before, I don’t give out my social security number unless I really feel like I trust the company. Same goes for my banking info. I also don’t share things like the name of my bank or exactly how much money I have in my account.
I have always felt the less that’s out there on the internet about me, the better. All these little answers that seem harmless like where I went to elementary school or my middle name are things that identity thieves can use. I do not share them and you shouldn’t either.
The Bottom Line
There are a lot of scammers, identity thieves, and just plain jerks out there. Protect yourself and you’re less likely to become a victim. Use my tricks and you can still do side hustles without compromising your safety.