12 October 2020
The consequences of moonlighting could be “disastrous” and “endless” for small businesses, according to a private investigator.
That’s the view of Ben Jones, who heads up Sentry Investigations, a private investigations firm based in Birmingham.
The business carries out covert surveillance for organisations which suspect employees of setting up direct competitors, selling company secrets and breaching the terms of their employment contracts.
Surprisingly, much like in Hollywood spy blockbusters, Ben and his team set up operations to observe and record suspects, and evidence whether or not they are committing such acts.
To determine whether or not a concern is legitimate and compliant with GDPR requirements and privacy laws, rather than a boss just disliking an employee, Sentry Investigations conduct a series of detailed evaluations including Data Protection Impact Assessments before every case. These prior assessments are what differentiate rogue operators to professional investigators.
For Ben, who has worked in the industry for over seven years, he sees the consequences of such employee actions as detrimental to businesses, and could almost certainly lead to losses.
He said: “The consequences of moonlighting can be disastrous and endless for the affected company.”
“The damage a moonlighter can create for a business is endless. You could be making a healthy profit one month, but then see a drastic drop in sales the next month because your product designs have been slipped into the back pocket of your biggest competitor (for the sake of a few quid) who is now manufacturing your product with their own logo and selling it for cheaper.”
“If a business’ trade or product secrets fall into the wrong hands, it will almost certainly cause financial losses for the business, and could quite easily run the business into the ground forcing it to close its doors for good.”
Ben says that there is a myriad of tell-tail signs of potential moonlighting practices including, but not limited to, company files being stored in personal drives, unexplained and suspicious absences, technical questions being asked out of turn and unexpected loss of clients and or employees.
However, Ben does have some simple, perhaps overlooked and underappreciated, advice for firms to protect themselves from such malicious act – focus on recruitment and contracts.
He said: “The first line of defence is the recruitment process. Dig deep into who you are hiring and ensure you follow up on references.
“Also, really try to get to know the person during interview and work out if you are going to be able to trust that person.
“The next defensive weapon is a non-disclosure agreement and carefully written contract. If these are broken, you have a legal defence ready to go, although these documents don’t stop everybody from trying it.
"If suspicions begin to arouse and your all-important gut feeling is telling you something isn’t quite right, ask questions, it’s your business and you need to protect it. If the data subject has thought about his or her moves carefully and is one step ahead of you, call in a private investigator.”
To find out more about Sentry Investigations, visit https://www.sentryinvestigations.co.uk