American Startup Is Paying People $500 to Give Away Their Payroll Credentials

  • A New York-based startup is paying people money to let them scrape their employment data.
  • The users will receive $500 once they provide the credentials and another $25 for each month this data remains valid.
  • The company isn’t doing anything illegal and isn’t hiding what they’re doing on their terms.

Brian Krebs is warning about a weird case involving a New York-based platform called Argyle, which calls gig workers to add all their payroll accounts on the platform and get money in return. The financial startup is promoting itself as a “platform for employment data” and is sincerely interested in accessing employment records and comprehensive sets of payroll and employment history data. Of course, this access is then resold to businesses such as lenders, banks, loan services, insurance providers, and recruiters.

Source: Krebs on Security

According to the investigative journalist and his IT consultant sources, it appears that Argyle is paying people to help them refine their data scraping tech and API, which is the main point for the company. So, people give their payroll credentials to Argyle, the firm checks their validity and then pays them $500. Then, for every month that the credentials remain valid, the user is receiving another $25.

Source: Krebs on Security

This is not illegal by any means, as Argyle is getting people’s consent for the scraping, and the people are giving away their credentials willfully. No trickery comes into play, and no details or term clauses are hidden from the users of the platform. However, the whole operation isn’t free of problems and complications, as this whole thing affects the companies who are responsible for the security of the payroll systems, the employers, etc.

Source: Krebs on Security

Again, if the user is breaching contract terms with their employer in order to get $500, that’s their wrongdoing, not Argyle’s. These same credentials may be used in other data access portals of the employing company, and this is why any of these were horrified to hear about the process when Krebs reached out to them for a comment. Argyle, on the other side, just plainly ignored the journalist’s messages.

Source: Krebs on Security

Integration always sounds like a great idea, as the comfort that arises from single-point solutions is not to be ignored. However, businesses and users need to always evaluate what they’re giving away, to whom, and under what terms. In this case, exchanging your payroll credentials for $500 may sound like a no-brainer at first, but it would constitute a very good reason to lose the job that comes with that payroll.

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