As a small business owner, you most likely will hire contractors at certain points. In the course of doing business, you collect information on your clients. In Carol’s recent post on MasterCard Biz, “5 Ways to Protect Your Data When Working with Contractors,” she shares some helpful suggestions for protecting your important information. Carol begins:

Small businesses frequently need to hire outside contractors for specific projects because it is often cost or otherwise prohibitive to hire full-time headcount, especially for non-recurring projects.

And while this practice can be very cost-effective, it’s important to note that these contractors will be working with your company for a short time, and then you may or may not work with them in the future.

Contractors often use their own equipment (phone, laptop) and may, during the course of a project, have access to your client list and databases. So, what are some best practices to protect your valuable data and your clients’ privacy? Here are five to start:

Put It In Writing

It seems like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised at how many small business owners don’t bother to create documentation when they bring in contractors. First, there is the concern about possible legal expenses, but also about whether agreements would be enforceable – either legally or financially.

Guenther Berg, President of Berg Logistics Translation LLC, stressed the importance of signing an NDA (non-disclosure agreement) with independent contractors. After reading and signing this document, all parties share an understanding of the scope of the project and expectations, including keeping access to critical information (which could include client data) confidential.

In fact, certain jurisdictions, like New York City, now require documentation when working with contractors, so make sure you are in compliance with the law when you put it in writing.

Keep Control

As you’re going through the process of evaluating potential contractors, you may be corresponding with them via their company email. It’s easy enough to continue using the contractor’s email after the project has started, but you relinquish control and access to an audit trail.

Instead, Phil Gerbyshak, Chief Digital Officer of Vengreso, advises, “While it costs more, add contractors to a corporate Microsoft 365 or Google Apps account that you manage and own. Use only that to communicate with them and share files with them.”

You can read the rest of the post here.