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How to Avoid Work Scams

Updated: Jun 27, 2023

As a freelancer, you may have heard countless stories of people being scammed out of their hard-earned money or being underpaid for their services. Unfortunately, freelance work scams are becoming more and more common, especially with the rise of remote work. However, there are ways to avoid falling prey to these scams. In this blog post, we’ll discuss how to protect yourself from fraudulent clients and opportunities in the freelance industry.

1. Research the client or company

Before accepting any freelance job, take some time to research the client or company offering the position. Start by searching for them online and checking out their website, social media accounts, LinkedIn, and reviews from previous freelancers. You can also look for mentions of their company in online forums or Facebook discussion groups. If you come across negative feedback, it’s best to avoid taking the job.

2. Be cautious of upfront payments

One of the most common freelance work scams is when a client asks for an upfront payment before you begin the job. This should be a major red flag as legitimate clients do not typically request upfront payments, particularly if they have not worked with you before. Instead, ask for a portion of the payment upfront, which is standard practice, and ensure that both parties sign a contract before the work begins.

A common scam is one where they send you a check and then ask for a percentage back. They'll take your money and their check will bounce. You never need to send a client money in order to work with them.

3. Ensure proper use of your personal information

Another common scam is when a client asks for personal information such as your bank account details, ID, or Social Security number. Be wary of requests like this and only provide what is necessary to complete the project. If in doubt, ask why the client needs this information and verify their identity. Additionally, avoid giving out personal information on unsecured websites or platforms such as unencrypted email.

4. Always sign a contract

A contract is essential in ensuring that both you and the client are on the same page regarding the scope of the project, payment terms, and deadlines. Before beginning any work, have a contract drawn up that outlines all the details of the project. Ensure that both parties sign the contract and keep a copy for your records.

5. Beware of unrealistic promises

If a client offers a project that pays significantly more than the industry standard, be wary. Unrealistic promises could be a ploy to lure you into a scam. Similarly, a client that offers unlimited work or guarantees long-term projects without having worked with you or knowing your skill set, should be a warning sign.

6. Trust your instincts

As a freelancer, you know your worth and what you’re capable of. If an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is. Additionally, if you get a sense that something isn’t right, trust your instincts and walk away. There will always be another opportunity.

7. Use freelance platforms

Freelance platforms such as StaffMeUp or UpWork offer a level of security that is often lacking in direct client interactions. These platforms act as intermediaries between freelancers and clients and offer dispute resolution services if problems arise. Moreover, these platforms have reviews and ratings systems to help you decide if a client is legitimate.

In conclusion, freelance work scams are a growing concern among freelancers. However, by doing your due diligence, being cautious, and trusting your instincts, you can avoid being scammed. Remember that not all clients who approach you as a freelancer are genuine, so it’s essential to take care and protect yourself at all times. Stay safe, and happy freelancing!

If you'd like to read more about how to improve your negotiating skills, I suggest:


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