Ed. Note: Many of my readers worry about keeping their Amazon account safe when their virtual assistants have access to it. So I contacted Matt Harrison, VP of Strategy of FreeeUp, to write this guest post. I have personally relied on FreeeUp for finding trusted, cost-effective, talented virtual assistants for my business. This guest article has some direct, tactical tips on ensuring your Amazon account stays secure.
Keeping your Amazon account safe is a top concern from Amazon FBA sellers. It’s not difficult to do when you are the only one who accesses it. When you start outsourcing work, however, keeping your Amazon account safe becomes something that you need to pay more attention to.
Hiring anyone to help you with your Amazon account means that you’ll have to give them access. There’s no way around it. But there are ways to minimize the risk that this can bring to your business. We know that it can be technically challenging to get this set up if you’ve never done it before. This is why we have put together this simple step-by-step guide.
You can grant access easily without worrying about allowing someone you don’t know into your account.
There is nothing you can do to bring the risk factor down to zero when granting Amazon account access. You can prevent many issues, however, if you follow these three steps.
1. Hire Carefully
You are at the helm when you outsource work. It is your responsibility to properly vet candidates. This means that you need to be very specific with what you’re looking for. When an applicant reaches out, you then need to conduct a thorough interview and make sure that you confirm the needed skills – both hard and soft. If you can’t get on the same page, move on.
As FreeeUp founder Nathan Hirsch says, “Hire slow, fire fast.”
When you partner with a hiring marketplace like FreeeUp, you get a certain level of additional protection. FreeeUp pre-vets every freelancer that applies to join the marketplace. This process is designed to allow only the freelancers with the highest ethical standards onto the marketplace. Every precaution is taken to detect scams and protect clients. FreeeUp also takes freelancers through multiple pages of marketplace guidelines, which include a section devoted to protecting client data, including account credentials. When it happens – which is rare – that a freelancer who passes the testing phase fails to follow the policies, they are quickly removed from the marketplace and banned from working through FreeeUp.
At the end of the day, however, only you have the tools and information to ensure that you are keeping your Amazon account safe. Only you can monitor hires to detect information leaks and fraudulent behavior. On FreeeUp, part of this is because of the non-disclosure agreement that each freelancer signs, stating that they will not share client information with FreeeUp. No one but you can monitor and secure your Amazon account.
2. Onboard Properly
An important part of onboarding new hires is discussing your expectations for work, including your policies and standards. It’s always uncomfortable to talk about things like theft and fraud, but you cannot make the assumption that it won’t happen to you just because you’re embarrassed. Keeping your Amazon account safe requires detailed agreements. If you don’t want to talk through them, you can prepare a document for all hires to sign.
You should also always have each person you hire sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) that details each element of privacy that you need covered. No one with high ethical standards will refuse to sign an NDA that protects you and your account, as long as it does not leave them open to abuse or infringes on their rights. (Ed. Note: The 'non-disclosure agreement' link goes to a site - RocketLawyer.com - where you can create an NDA and download it during a free trial where a credit card is required. Neither the author nor I receive any revenue or credit if you decide to use that service.)
3. Grant Needed Access
Don’t give anyone more access than they need to do their work. It can take some time to navigate the permission settings and get verification and all that before a freelancer is all set for work. When it doesn’t happen instantly, it is very tempting to just click away to make sure they have access. Just remember that this leaves you open. It’s best to view the time that you spend as an investment in keeping your Amazon account safe.
To make it easier, here’s the basics on what to do when granting access:
Seller Central Access
The User Permissions settings are under the main Settings on your Amazon Seller Central dashboard. Click on the link that says "Add a New User" and enter the freelancer’s email address. To make this even safer, use an email address that you have created for them under your own domain - or an extra free gmail account where you know the password, so that you have control over it:
Send the invitation and wait for the freelancer to accept. It’s best to set a time to get this set up so you are both online and can more easily work out any glitches. Refresh the page if you don’t see the new user and the status of the invite.
Once the user accepts, they will be given an Amazon-generated code. You need to enter this Confirmation Code next to their information in Pending Users. Once that’s done, you should immediately set their permissions.
You’ll find the Edit My Permissions link under Content Users further down on that page. Choose only the areas and permission levels that the freelancer needs. If you’re not sure about certain permissions, don’t allow access. If you’re not sure about certain permission levels, grant minimal access. You can always add or change permissions later. Test the access yourself and adjust as needed.
To change permissions or revoke access down the line, just go back to that page and locate the freelancer under Current Users. Click Edit next to their information and update the options. If you need help, you can always contact Amazon support. If you’ve hired through FreeeUp, an assistant is always available to point you in the right direction – at no additional cost.
Keep Your Amazon Account Safe
You may still feel anxious about giving a freelancer access to your Amazon account. This is a healthy fear. You should always err on the side of caution. It does not take much to add permissions, but you could end up losing thousands of dollars before you realize it if you aren’t careful.
The best thing you can do is to add permissions slowly. You need time to build trust with any new hire, freelancer or not. When you feel more comfortable with them, you can add more permissions as needed.
You should also carefully monitor your account. This will take additional time for both you and the freelancer, but again, better safe than sorry. When you feel more comfortable with them, you can monitor less frequently.
Keeping your Amazon account safe will not always be absolute. There is always a risk present, no matter who you hire and where you hire from. There is simply no guarantee. Frankly, even if only you have access, there are always unscrupulous hackers around.
The point is to minimize the risk by taking precautions. Secure what can be secured. Build trust so you can judge whether or not a hire acts with the utmost integrity. Weigh the risks and remain vigilant. If you see any red flags, investigate immediately. And don’t hesitate to let go of anyone you can’t trust. The time and money you may lose by having to hire a different person is always far less than what you risk by keeping them on. Always put the safety of your business’s sensitive information and systems at the top of your priority list.
About the Author: Matt Harrison is VP of Freeeup, the preeminent freelance marketplace for hiring high quality, vetted talent. Matt has hired freelancers from around the world and built teams to service multinational brands resulting from over $100 million in web hosting company acquisitions. He currently lives in St. Petersburg, FL.