EPMS is now making our private information available to all shoppers

I hadn't noticed this before today. If this has been an ongoing issue, someone let me know. However, I've been a shopper for them for a while and this is the first time I am noticing this.

There are shops available in my area for a client who uses a database to keep track of all property visitors. For those who don't shop EPMS, EPMS encourages shoppers to give a fake name or last name so that we aren't identified as a shopper.

Once we submit the report, EPMS saves our "fake name" and keeps track of it under the client profile. That helps us not use the same fake name a second time.

Well, I went to view information on shops where a backup shopper is needed. I clicked on the blue circle with a symbol that looks like "!".

Keep in mind, this shop was already assigned, so they were just looking for backup shoppers. When I clicked to view more information on the shop, I was able to see the name of the shopper who was assigned the shop, plus all of the aliases they have used, their phone number, their e-mail address, and all of the properties that they have visited for that same client.

I checked EVERY shop that needed a back-up shopper for this client and I was able to view the same information for other shoppers who were already assigned a shop.

I don't know about you guys, but it concerns me that any shopper can see this information. What if a back-up shopper calls me to find out how the shop is going?

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/29/2012 11:50PM by AnonymousGirl.

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That is pretty bizarre that they would do that. What's also bizarre is that they would say to give an alias when you are supposed to show your photo ID in order to view a property.
For a woman, an alias surname is easy. "I just got divorced and have notchanged my ID back to my family name because I knew I was moving and would need to change my driver's licence twice!"

Based in MD, near DC
Shopping from the Carolinas to New York
Have video cam; will travel

Poor customer service? Don't get mad; get video.
walesmaven Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> For a woman, an alias surname is easy. "I just
> got divorced and have notchanged my ID back to my
> family name because I knew I was moving and would
> need to change my driver's licence twice!"

---
I pull off the whole married/divorced thing at a bank once. She asked my last name, and I stumbled on it. She looked at me like um, dude you don't know you're own name! I quickly said I had just gotten married and wasn't used to giving out my new name. It worked great. I just think it's pretty silly to give an alias if you have to show ID. Even if you give them a different last name, they still have your name from your license and there is nothing preventing them from writing it down or photocopying your license.
OK, all that information being viewable to all other shoppers is just creepy, and there is no purpose for it.

And I've never gotten into the shops requiring aliases yet, but you only have to 'alias' your last name? I know I asked for advice on using aliases earlier and forget the type of shop I was inquiring for right now. But in that thread a first/last alias situation was discussed. I hadn't thought about the shops like this, where aliases are commonly used, but require showing an ID. That does seem really weird. But... if the solution is to just use the married/divorced story, at least you wouldn't have to remember to respond to a fake first name. That's the part I think I would slip up on!

However, using the married/divorced story would mean only women could do these shops!

Well, maybe not... have not been briefed on whether same-gender couples (one of the partners, at least) change their last names in cases where they are able to marry.

(Edited because I guess the forum doesn't like the ess-ee-exx word, so I substituted 'gender'.)

Happiness is merely life's way of keeping you off-balance.


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/30/2012 02:59PM by StormCloud.
I can remember a few years back there was a huge mess with this company and their "privacy" issues...many people quit them for this very reason...obviously hasn't changed...
I am sorry to hear this. I haven't ever taken a shop for them because I generally have my kids with me, and that seems to be a no-no. However, prior to this news, I took issue with this company because of their *incredibly lame* email subject lines.
EPMS requires shoppers to use an alias? This is news to me. For males, this is about impossible, considering that you have to show your ID at the shop.
Not long ago, this was discussed in the Mystery Shopping Company Discussion forum. [www.mysteryshopforum.com]

The crux of AnonymousGirl's post, in my opinion, is the privacy breach. I would be interested to hear a reply from EPMS.
Hi Mert.

I remember the post, but it had more to do with EPMS not deleting information from a previous report if it the shop was somehow given to the backup shopper. This was of concern to some who were given shops and saw the previous shopper's information filled out in the report. To be honest, that is why that page on the shop form is the last page that I fill out. I've had EPMS take away a shop from me while I was working on the report and became VERY concerned about that after I made myself the backup shopper and the new primary shopper declined the shop. I was once again the primary shopper and saw that my address, phone number, etc were never deleted once the shop was initially taken away from me.

My new issue with them is I am suddenly able to view shopper information if I simply click on the blue information button for shops that were already assigned.
In my area, it is not recommended to use an alias, as we are required to use an ID, so there is an 18 month wait in between shops at the same place. I have seen the problem where they leave previous info on the forms, but haven't stumbled across this new issue yet. It does concern me that any of my private info would be out there for anyone to see if I pick up a shop for them.
jschilz Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I pull off the whole married/divorced thing at a
> bank once. She asked my last name, and I stumbled
> on it. She looked at me like um, dude you don't
> know you're own name! I quickly said I had just
> gotten married and wasn't used to giving out my
> new name. It worked great.


This is perfect! If you don't mind I'd love to use this as a tip for our shoppers.

In regards to the issue at hand, it sounds like a technical issue - perhaps just a flaw in their system. You should notify them immediately as they may have just not realized it.

Dylan Lerner
DLerner@informars.com
Mystery Shop Department
Informa Research Services
www.informams.com
AnonymousGirl Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Hi Mert.
>
> I remember the post, but it had more to do with
> EPMS not deleting information from a previous
> report if it the shop was somehow given to the
> backup shopper. This was of concern to some who
> were given shops and saw the previous shopper's
> information filled out in the report. To be
> honest, that is why that page on the shop form is
> the last page that I fill out. I've had EPMS take
> away a shop from me while I was working on the
> report and became VERY concerned about that after
> I made myself the backup shopper and the new
> primary shopper declined the shop. I was once
> again the primary shopper and saw that my address,
> phone number, etc were never deleted once the shop
> was initially taken away from me.
>
> My new issue with them is I am suddenly able to
> view shopper information if I simply click on the
> blue information button for shops that were
> already assigned.

Hi AG:

There were several backup assignments on my board. I clicked the Info button on each of them. About 1/3 of them, as I scrolled all the way down, contained name, phone number and email address of the primary. Unsettling, and unbelievable. Did you broach this breach ;] with EPMS?
Hello,

I wanted to thank you for bringing this to our attention, even if it was via a shopper forum. We want you to know that we have implemented the means and technology for shopper information to be removed when a shopper is unassigned or cancels out of a shop. It was never our intent to share information with other shoppers, even if it was left in the report. We believed that when a shopper accepted a shop and began their report, they would take that shop through to completion. I apologize on behalf of Ellis for this and please know that it has been addressed and corrected. Thank you.

Vanessa Dickerson
Director of Scheduling & Follow-Up
Ellis, Partners in Mystery Shopping
I'm glad someone has decided to do something. Just for the record, this was not just posted on the shopper forum. There have been numerous instances where it was taken directly to your staff and the issue was glossed over, minimized and basically ignored. I was one of the shoppers who communicated it to several people at Ellis and would be more than happy to let you read the responses for yourself.

Equal rights for others does not mean fewer rights for you. It's not pie.
"I prefer someone who burns the flag and then wraps themselves up in the Constitution over someone who burns the Constitution and then wraps themselves up in the flag." -Molly Ivins
Never try to teach a pig to sing. It's a waste of your time and it really annoys the pig.
I too have e-mailed schedulers letting them know that a previous shopper's information was on my report and that it was of concern to me. I like you Vanessa because my e-mails to you have always been answered in a prompt manner. However, some of your schedulers aren't the best. You have great ones but then you have some who give simple replies, take a long time to reply, or are simply annoying. You have one particular scheduler who e-mails up to two 'please update me on the status of the shop' e-mails per day. If they see that I made a phone call a few hours ago and it was 5 minutes long, then isn't it obvious that the target was reached?

Another annoyance is when we assign ourselves a monday-friday shop and the agent is out two days during the week. There was an instance when I assigned myself a shop on a thursday and the agent was out friday and monday, according to the rules in the shop. The annoyance comes in when on Monday, I receive a "keep me updated on the status of the shop" e-mail. Why release a shop if it can't be worked on in the next 4-5 days anyways?

An issue that has been raised on the board is people who make multiple phone attempts and can never reach a target, no one answers the phone, or the target no longer works there, and we end up not getting paid. Why is the client assigning shops for agents who no longer work there? And why aren't we comped when a client suddenly decides to cancel a shop once we have been working on it for a few days? The client should still be billed for the work that someone put in.

Overall, I do like EPMS and am grateful that I am able to take on so many shops per month. I just think a lot of shoppers have questions that your schedulers never answer. You are the only mystery shopping company I have personally worked with who doesn't pay for a shop when a client has cancelled it. I recently did a shop for another company where the street was blocked off due to a suicide attempt from a roof. I took a picture of the scene, e-mailed a link to the news story to my scheduler and described the situation. I was still paid for the shop as I had done the phone portion and went to the location.
For an MSP to not react to direct communication from a shopper(s), is disappointing. However, if it takes a forum to get your attention, then, now we know.

Better late than never, EPMS. Thanks.
StormCloud Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> However, using the married/divorced story would
> mean only women could do these shops!
>
> Well, maybe not... have not been briefed on
> whether same-gender couples (one of the partners,
> at least) change their last names in cases where
> they are able to marry.
>


No, many husbands take their wife's last name, usually by hyphenating. They both hyphenate. Baby is hyphenated. All family members have the same last name. They are Jane and John and Baby Doe-Smith.

smiling smiley Jamie
Editor and shopper
I have never seen a problem like this with EPMS before, nor do I see it now, but I hope they've taken care of it!
Shoppers,

There were two issues with privacy, and I've just learned of the second. The first was the report not erasing information if the primary shopper filled out the report and then cancelled and this has been fixed. The second is the guest tracking information. If an apartment community uses Guest Tracking, we load for your convenience the names and numbers you've used in the past for their communities. Since I've never gone to look for this information, I was unaware you could see this if you were not assigned. Our IT department will have this fixed by the end of the day. Granted, this information was only name and phone numbers used, it still is a concern brought to our attention. I will say, if you have an opportunity, go Google your own name to see what is out there. For example, if you Google my name, you would see that I volunteer on all three PTA boards for my kids' schools, that I work for Ellis including my photo and that I coach a volleyball team; my daughter's team, who is a minor. If you Google my maiden name, you see where I went to college, when I got married and to whom, as well as pictures of all three of our children when we put their names in the paper. I guess what I'm trying to say is that if someone wants to know your information, the world wide web has many outlets to find your name and possibly more. Ellis will not be one of those companies that shows your information.

I will ask this of you: If you ever have a problem with Ellis, please reach out to me at vdickerson@epmsonline.com. I am one of the few people in my two departments, Scheduling and Follow-Up, that work fulltime. The majority of my departments are college students, high school students and stay-at-home-moms. I'm a constant at Ellis, so if you ever have any issues, please feel free to contact me. Thank you!!!
My issue wasn't people knowing that "anonymous girl" took on a shop. My main concern was a shopper possibly assigning him or herself as a backup and then contacting me. Another concern for everyone would be people at the property signing up and trying to find out who is coming to shop them. I google myself from time to time but my name is somewhat common so there is nothing related to me out there.

I also don't know if you are away, but some of your properties are being shopped by another shopping company who pays less. The scheduler has been having a hard time getting properties shopped that you guys also shop. The scheduler personally reached out to me and asked why I wasn't taking these shops that were withiin 5 miles of my house. I simply told them that it was due to personal reasons.

I would hate for this scheduler to go on EPMS and see that I have taken on the higher paying shop with you.
I actually find the reference to your information and the PTA, etc. to be totally irrelevant to this discussion and is an attempt at trivializing a security breach by your company. Basically it reinforces the general attitude I have experienced regarding the issue.

The relationship we have with EPMS is a business relationship which requires us to provide personal information to the company. It is not up to EPMS to make a decision regarding which, if any, of that information is shared publicly. In addition, many new shoppers come to this forum and a common question is, "Is it safe to provide this MSC with my personal information." Long time shoppers and trusted forum members assure them it is safe. I will no longer risk my reputation by assuring them they are safe with Ellis.

Equal rights for others does not mean fewer rights for you. It's not pie.
"I prefer someone who burns the flag and then wraps themselves up in the Constitution over someone who burns the Constitution and then wraps themselves up in the flag." -Molly Ivins
Never try to teach a pig to sing. It's a waste of your time and it really annoys the pig.
"Ellis will not be one of those companies that shows your information." That is why it was both surprising and disappointing that EPMS was not aware of identifying shopper information being visible to other shoppers. To tell a mystery shopper that the breach "was only name and phone numbers" would be almost funny, if it weren't so serious. There's an inner circle who is aware that I am a mystery shopper. Searching my real name by Googling, Facebook, etc., may reveal my friends, day job, likes/dislikes, etc., but will most certainly not reveal ms'ing, though that is irrelevant. We sign contracts of confidentiality, and must rely on and trust each other.

EPMS is not new to the business, nor is it run on a shoestring. However, after all these years of an MSP having a serious issue unknown to them, shoppers realized and sounded the alarm. Appreciate the fix, EPMS. Way to go, shoppers! In the end, it's not us versus them, or them versus us. It's let's get it done.
Ellis and I get along like cat and dog. To use a fake name is wrong. We are mystery shoppers, not mystery liars. If you are operating with in the time frames allowed (waiting 6 months) the agent will have changed over 5 or 6 times). AND, get this, YOU MUST leave your driver license with the rep when leaving for an apartment shop. They will see that you name given and the name on the license and the name and address they will send the card to is different. When there is a problem, guess who does not get paid. YOU DO NOT GET PAID, but they would!! Ya wonder if some companies might do that ....... on purpose. They get paid, you do not. hummmmmmmm

Don, Vegas

Don


AnonymousGirl Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I hadn't noticed this before today. If this has
> been an ongoing issue, someone let me know.
> However, I've been a shopper for them for a while
> and this is the first time I am noticing this.
>
> There are shops available in my area for a client
> who uses a database to keep track of all property
> visitors. For those who don't shop EPMS, EPMS
> encourages shoppers to give a fake name or last
> name so that we aren't identified as a shopper.
>
> Once we submit the report, EPMS saves our "fake
> name" and keeps track of it under the client
> profile. That helps us not use the same fake name
> a second time.
>
> Well, I went to view information on shops where a
> backup shopper is needed. I clicked on the blue
> circle with a symbol that looks like "!".
>
> Keep in mind, this shop was already assigned, so
> they were just looking for backup shoppers. When I
> clicked to view more information on the shop, I
> was able to see the name of the shopper who was
> assigned the shop, plus all of the aliases they
> have used, their phone number, their e-mail
> address, and all of the properties that they have
> visited for that same client.
>
> I checked EVERY shop that needed a back-up shopper
> for this client and I was able to view the same
> information for other shoppers who were already
> assigned a shop.
>
> I don't know about you guys, but it concerns me
> that any shopper can see this information. What if
> a back-up shopper calls me to find out how the
> shop is going?
Ah ha! I was wondering why I didn't get paid for a shop I did and when I saw that it was cancelled I wondered why. Thanks for telling me that cause I had not known that before. I also think the alias thing is ridiculous cause again I have to show ID to order to be shown a unit and it makes no sense to give a different ID when you know they are going to see the correct one. .
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