Recently several CCNI members have received emails from a person looking for coaching for some of his relatives. Note, this does not mean that CCNI’s database has been breached. It means that some people will and do abuse our coaching directory—and that of other such directories across the Internet—for deceptive purposes. We always want to be a help to those in need, yet we also need to be aware of predators who are looking for ways to compromise our data integrity. It’s not just coaches. Photographers, web designers and even gardeners get such emails too.
Recently I’ve talked to the folks at ICF about this. Legally there is little we can do to prevent people from making inquiries about our services. However, there is A LOT we can do about being wise with the information we give out. Unfortunately, we need to be leery of anyone asking for intimate details before a real business relationship is established.
So, this is how it works: You get numerous phishing emails, phone calls, and even text messages asking you about your address, credit cards, age, and even Social Security number (i.e. personal identification numbers). This is called triangulation. They put together a profile on you and eventually get enough data to attack your financial accounts or send you bogus invoices.
What to do?
- Don’t respond. If you’ve already answered a few questions and feel uncomfortable – stop. However, do not UNSUBSCRIBE either. This lets the phishing robot know that your email account is active. Walk away. Do nothing more.
- Talk to the person you feel is needy. A real person will hold a real conversation with you. A “fake person” will not.
- Determine their readiness to enter a contract. Most people are ready to pay for services rendered. Be clear about your expectations of the client.
- If they have special needs or low financial means, think about referring them to another professional. You can also tell them about CCNI’s complementary Point-of-Need coaching program.
- If you run into something that feels wrong, reach out to a mentor or other experienced coach. Seek advice. We are all on this planet to help each other.
Hope this helps. Please share with CCNI whatever mishaps you experience. I collect such stories to use in coach training sessions. I’d love to hear from you.
About the author: Michael J. Marx, EdD is the Founder of Blazing New Trails Coaching. He is a sought-after business and life coach for those who want to explore new directions. Michael’s purpose is to be a catalyst and his greatest joy is seeing people move from having a stalled life to a dynamic one. Michael holds the Professional Certified Coach credential (ICF), the Professional Certified Christian Coach credential (CCNI) as well as being a Certified Professional Life Coach (PCCI). He brings more than two decades of experience in teaching, coaching, and mentoring in an international arena. Michael is also the current president of the Christian Coaches Network International and serves as the leader of the International Coaching Federation (ICF) Ethics Community of Practice. In 2016 he published his book, Ethics and Risk Management for Christian Coaches. He lives at 8162 feet in the mountains of Colorado with his wife Joy and a dozen sled dogs.