Upwork scams: how to avoid them
Angelica A.
February 5, 2020
  |  

Upwork scams: how to avoid them

Angelica A.
February 5, 2020
  |  

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Scams can be a real pain. And, as entrepreneurs who continuously need to hire freelance work, we should learn to avoid them. Freelancers in pitch deck consulting, presentation design services, and other fields also need to be safe and only spend time getting and doing the jobs that will pay. 

So, let’s look into some Upwork scams, so you can keep an eye out next time you need to hire or provide services through this online work exchange platform. 

Upwork scams by freelancers to hiring parties

1. Full payment request before job acceptance

Of course, the easiest way of being scammed on Upwork is when a freelancer asks for a full pre-payment. Be especially alarmed when they request that before they even accept an offer on the platform. They will then expense from submitting any work and keep the payment to themselves. 

So, never pay in full before a job is accepted; we’d even say not to make any partial payments until you record an agreement in Upwork for the project. 

Now that we’re on it, if you have a freelancer asking for pay outside of Upwork, they should also be mistrusted as a possible Upwork scam. There is no need to be dealing with payments outside the protected platform. 

2. Identity queries for fake verification

Also, one of the easiest ways through which identity theft happens is by sharing details before a binding contract. If a freelancer says they need to check your background and that gets them to ask personal questions, beware of giving out confidential information. The same goes for personal data as much as financial information, even when they claim they’re asking for security purposes. 

To help this, check a freelancer’s reviews thoroughly and even look them up online for LinkedIn references and social media accounts. Also, request referrals if your job is large enough. At any rate, never give out personal details such as social security number, tax-related info, an identification card such as a driver’s license or passport. 

3. Copyright isn’t taken seriously

Some scammers might not even be familiar with how serious copyright infringement is nor how easy it is to detect it. You can run into a freelancer having accepted a job to submit a raw copy/paste of copyrighted material. This is a possibility. So ask for work samples, look into a freelancer’s references, profile, and online content. 

Bear in mind almost everything can be plagiarized today, from logos to full articles and even code. Therefore, double-check on the new material you’re getting to make sure it’s original and brand new. You might otherwise end up being liable for copyright infringement or other legal matters we’re sure you’d rather spare. 

On the same token, some might give you a job that’s genuinely theirs but contains copyrighted material in it. That exposes you to legal action. 

So make sure the person you hire knows not to use anyone else’s work when it’s protected by any laws. In terms of design, this can mean images or visual art that belongs to someone else. 

Check a freelancer’s submissions, run them through anti-plagiarism resources such as Grammarly or other platforms. 

All in all, bathe yourself safe by asking for editable formats in design deliveries. You can also request sources, ask for proper citations, and explicitly ask for usage rights. 

4. Fake freelancer profiles

Beware of freelancers who use different profiles than their actual identity. 

On the one hand, you could have a person claiming to be native of a particular country, thus making you think they’re fluent in whatever language for a translation, for example, and end up speaking to someone else in a different time zone. 

If time matters for you, check locations. It will undoubtedly be easier for someone in your time zone to meet your deadlines than someone who is passing as such and is on the other end of the planet, instead. 

Also, check public reviews carefully and look out for any signs of removal of any negative feedback. Upwork doesn’t guarantee profile veracity, and they’ll even allow feedback removal every trimester. So, scout those that read “feedback has been removed.” 

Please take into account how that provider might have delivered a job that received a negative review. They have since been able to delete that feedback. Upwork will even allow no input to show after a job has needed full reimbursement. The platform is capable of erasing all trace of that negative experience altogether. 

Interestingly enough, too, freelancers have figured out how to create good ratings for themselves through different profiles. So, if you see a considerable amount of 5-star ratings, also be suspicious. 

Look into account names and their relations to deem if those are even real. You should even check the reviewers’ writing styles. 

Also, this is a matter of ethics. If a person is willing to operate under false pretenses, chances are you’re better off without sharing your business or personal information with them. And this might also impact other actions they might’ve taken under other profiles. Rule out anyone sanctioned under a profile for a valid reason and looking to escape from that. They’re probably not the most responsible party for your startup’s needs. 

Upwork scams by fake employers

1. Free and for-pay work expectations

If anyone asks for free labor, let them pass. And if someone asks you pay for a job opportunity, consider reporting that person. 

There should be no reason not to pay you for services that are posted for financial hire, let alone pay to be able to give your work out to anyone! 

Even work samples should be reimbursed if asked to produce a new one for a new job. And if samples are required, let your past work done speak for itself as part of the skills you prove before someone hires you. 

Regardless of what anyone promises, don’t give your work out for free nor pay to be able to work. 

2. Meeting somewhere

Upwork scams can easily be detected if anyone asks you to commute anywhere to get a job done. Think the same if they request to communicate outside of Upwork. 

Please note this is a strictly online transaction platform, so any requests to go out into the real world to seal any deal on Upwork should make you suspicious. 

Upwork has a section of their Terms of Service on what they termed “disintermediation” and its description reads as follows: 

“Disintermediation: When a client is requesting to take work or payment off Upwork, it is not only against the ToS, but it’s also an easy way for you to fall victim to a scam since you will not be protected by Upwork’s programs, like Hourly Payment Protection.”

You heard it from them. Don’t put yourself at risk like that. 

3. Promising the moon? Get real!

While we love a job offer that’s too good to be true, the healthy share of those for freelancers certainly don’t come up through new acquaintances in Upwork. 

Upwork is not the ideal platform to find jobs that promise any benefits like 401Ks, medical or dental insurance, and paid training. On the contrary, those should be your alerts on a type of posting to stop reading. 

Unfortunately, learning how to avoid Upwork scams starts with a heightened sixth sense, almost. If something doesn’t sound right, don’t take it. You’re better off sparing any possible fraud than taking a job that doesn’t seem quite right. 

4. Giving a third party your account access

At some point, someone might look you up through a different platform than Upwork to say they can help you get more jobs. Be suspicious. The most common request in that contact will be for you to give account access to this party so they can allegedly work on your profile content and descriptions. 

What happens next is a change of your password, depletion of funds to a new location, and a payment request to you as a ransom for your hijacked account. Some of the most severe scams on Upwork have to do with proprietary theft and program hacking.

Don’t give out passwords, and refer to access levels to protect the integrity of your website and business. Once finished, revoke all those permissions and keep an eye out for intruder violations.

If you’re getting links for a job, check on the HTML and URLs to make sure those are valid and not phishing. Never ever give out your personal financial information. 

Hire services you can trust

If you ask us, the ultimate way of making sure you avoid Upwork scams is hiring safe and reliable like our design services or pitch deck writing service.

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