Meeting someone at their private residence is more risky than visiting them at their hotel room. Most hotels have lots of built-in security, like cameras in the entries, elevators & halls, 24/7 staff, thin walls, and constant in-and-out traffic. Oh yeah, and the 10-a.m. “Housekeeping” knock, of course! In contrast, private residences are generally more risky because… well… they are more private, and the individual has more control over how the space is set up. So it’s always good to take extra precautions when visiting a private residence with someone you don’t know or don’t know well.
*If you don’t know the person, don’t travel 2 hours to meet them: it can be really hard to walk away after you’ve already invested $60 in gas and 4 hours of your life to going to his place.
*Avoid late-night outcalls to private residences, especially if they are to secluded areas with little to no car traffic, where you will have difficulty getting help from someone else and won’t be able to flag a cab if anything goes wrong.
*Make sure to get the full name & workplace information if you are going to a private residence alone, as well as a reference or two.
*Try not to meet a new client at their home unless you know them well, or you know someone who knows them well and who has also visited their home.
*Check blacklists. You can find a list of industry blacklists and client-screening advice on SWOP-Chicago’s Website.
*Even if you are not a member of a blacklist (like National Blacklist) you can search it. Google “National Blacklist +his name and city). If you do not find him, try other variables: “National blacklist + plus his name and no city,” “National blacklist and his phone number,” “National Blacklist and his email.”
*Check the address you are going to, and make sure that the client is listed as living at that address. You can use www.spokeo.com to do this.
*Before getting out of your vehicle, check out the surroundings: Is it a quiet, secluded street? Are neighbors around? Does the residence look difficult or hard to find a way out of? If anything going in irks you out, turn around and leave.
*While entering, be ON THE TELEPHONE with your safecall (or pretend to call a safe-buddy). If you do not have a safe-buddy, you can call your own answering machine. This keeps him from stopping you from making that call. Make sure your client hears you confirming that you have arrived at such-and-such address being sure to say this on the phone. If he asks about that call, you are calling your assistant to let her know that you are there. If he asks, tell him its your safety procedure when meeting new clients at a private residence. Stay on the phone with your safecall until you see his identification (photo I.D.) and this is a good time to say “I’m here with John Smith and everything checks out. I will call you back at xxxx as the appointment is for xxxx hours and will meet you at xxx as we planned.”. This way he knows that someone is expecting you at such and such time so having you call and say you are on your way home is not your final checking.
*When you enter, generally make note of the exits, including windows. If he goes to deadbolt the door, and it requires a key, stop him from doing so and leave immediately.
*Do not follow a client into their basement. Be aware if he is taking you to a potentially unsafe area during “the tour.” Basements provide a soundproof area for them to hurt you and it is easier to clean up the mess. Basements generally have floor drains. Especially unfinished ones.
*Turn down wine or alcohol from an opened bottle.
*If the bottle is sealed, and he is about to pour, grab your glass and pretend to see a spot as an excuse to thoroughly wash it. This precludes a small amount of clear liquid being in the glass going unnoticed before pouring. Then play the wine snob and let him drink first as you move the wine around in your glass and notice its color and bouquet and wait for him to drink first.
*Place your final checkout call beginning in his home and stay on the phone till you are safely away from his property. Be careful when you leave an appointment and always lock your door immediately before checking your phone, starting the car, adjusting the heat or radio. Leave promptly.
*Don’t be afraid to leave if something does not feel right. If you arrive at a place that looks like it should be condemned, keep your car-doors locked and leave. If you suspect that there are more than one person waiting (hear voices or see someone peeking out the window when the client is by the door), just go.