When you are a freelancer, you are constantly looking for new opportunities and projects, dealing with clients you may not know, some of whom you will find online, many possibly in another country, and although most of them are probably honest, there are always threats. within the world of work, as in the case of dishonest people who seek to take advantage of inexperienced or unsuspecting people to scam.
If you’re just starting out as a freelancer, it can be difficult to know which jobs are worthwhile and which aren’t, but don’t let the existence of these types of internships discourage you from freelancing. There are ways to avoid falling into scammers’ traps if you pay attention.
You can also learn how to spot some signs that will tell you when a supposed freelance project or job is actually a scam. That way, you can be alert and avoid applying or sending scammers information that they can use to steal from you. Remember that when you identify a suspicious project you must report it through the platform where you are applying.
So that you know when to be alert, avoid and report, we present below the most common types of scams. We will also talk about some tips to avoid being a victim of scams.
The most important thing is to be able to detect it before getting involved. Otherwise, you could end up wasting time and money, and no one wants that. These are some of the most common scam methods they often resort to:
1. The promise of easy money (too good to be true)
There are many scammers who promise easy money if you just do a simple task for them, and then give you more work. They might even offer to pay you in advance for the first task completed.
But of course, once you have done the hard work, they will disappear and you will never see that money. What these people do is take advantage of newbies in the freelance world to get jobs for free or present the work as theirs.
Never agree to deliver work progress without putting some security measure in place so that it cannot be used until you are paid. Example: Putting watermarks or an anti-copy tool, using localhost, low quality images, etc.
2. Payment processing scam
This is a common scam for freelancers working online. The scammer will say that he needs your help to be able to complete your payment when the job is finished by sending you a certain sum of money.
At first it may be a minimum amount, but then you will ask for more. The most common thing is that they request that you send them money in advance, generally through Western Union, MoneyGram, a bank Wire Transfer or others, all to supposedly create an account where the money you send will be available and will be returned to you along with the payment by the job.
If they see that you send a first payment, some will disappear, others will try to tell you that there are difficulties of any kind (exchange rate, country, bank, etc.) and will ask you for more money. Once you send a fairly large sum, you will never hear from them again.
Under no circumstances should you send money to anyone to request payment. There is no reason why they should ask you for money to open an account of any kind.
3. Fake contest
This is another common scam targeting freelancers. You’ll see an ad for a contest that sounds great, but when you try to enter, you’ll discover it’s fake. Scammers often ask for an upfront fee to enter the contest, but of course there is no real prize and you will never get your money back.
Another way to get you to participate will be by asking you to fill out a form with all kinds of personal data, including email, identity numbers and more. Information that could then be used to resort to phishing through a fake email pretending to be your bank.
If they ask you to register outside the platform to apply, it is better to avoid that project. Scammers know that outside of it you are unprotected.
4. Purchase of products or paid training
This is one of the most common methods. These are job ads that look perfect for your skills and experience, but when you present your offer of services, the supposed client will try to get you to pay them for “training” or tell you that you should buy some equipment or software from them that you don’t. have. Once the payment is made they will disappear with the money.
Another thing that can happen is that they simply use the personal information that they have previously requested from you to “sign you up” and they will use it to steal your identity and empty your accounts.
Never agree to pay for training or buy a certain amount of products “to get started.” Otherwise, what will happen next is that there will be no training of any kind and no product shipping.
In the latter case, even if the work is in person and you see the products, do not agree to buy anything and then sell it (pyramid business scheme or Herbalife type). Scammers are generally experts at inflating numbers and convincing people that their product is in high demand and will sell itself. But in reality, they’re almost always things that basically no one buys and you’ll end up with a bunch of junk that you’ll have to use yourself so you don’t feel like you lost money, even if you did.
Pay attention to the words:
If someone tells you things like “you have to pay it and we will give you the product, because if not, you may disappear” it is a sign that they are a scammer who only wants your money (the lion judges by their condition).
In a legitimate sales job, the merchandise is given on consignment or the freelancer only sells it online and the owner of the merchandise ships directly to the buyer.
5. Payment of insurance for equipment
Although less common, it can also happen that the scammer tells you that he will provide you with work equipment. This may be: products that they sell, a mobile phone, a laptop or similar. It will ask you for your identity and address documents to send them. Then, it will tell you to deposit a certain amount of money as insurance. He will promise that you will be reimbursed when you finish the job and have the equipment picked up or when you have sold the products.
These sums are usually considerable, since they are supposedly risking giving tangible assets to a complete stranger. At least this is what they will say. However, once you send the money, you simply will not receive any further contact from them.
Serious companies have their equipment insured and will only need you to sign a document with the characteristics, serial number and other information of the equipment, where you agree to return it once the work is finished. Again, it is important here to listen to what they tell you.
Many years ago, a supposed marketing company for “imitation fragrances” requested sellers and in the interview they were told that they had to pay USD $40 to have the products delivered. The words of the supposed recruiters were “because, imagine, if they gave me 40 dollars in luxury fragrances, what I would do is disappear and not pay for them.” Very bad sign, the scammer betrays himself with those words. (It would be unnecessary to deduce that those who agreed to pay surely received garbage and never heard from the company again).
No employer should ask you for money to give you work or products to market.
How to make sure freelance work is legitimate
There are some key indicators that a job is real and evidence you can look for. These will help you avoid scams and even misunderstandings in legitimate jobs:
1. Clarity in the request and tasks to be performed
The company or person behind the contract should be able to give you a clear description of what they are looking for. If they are vague or evasive about what specific work needs to be done, that’s a red flag.
Always ask what tasks will be performed, what exactly the job is about, and what knowledge is required. If you see that the client hesitates or is not clear, if he contradicts himself or justifies himself by saying that “he will give the details later” it is that he is inventing the answer or taking time to do it.
2. Clarity in the scope of the project and expected results
Again, if the company or individual is vague about the specific work to be done, it is a red flag. While some clients need help defining the characteristics of their project or are looking for suggestions when they are very technical areas, they should be able to say what they want to achieve.
Ask about the functionalities, target audience, how they will use the work obtained, deadlines, delivery times, number of pages, audio duration, etc. It all depends on the type of project. Establish clear parameters of quantity, quality, functionality and time.
If the client can’t give you these details, tell them you can’t do the job. Don’t take it.
3. Defined budget range
Although some clients are reluctant to give a value at first glance, because they want to know market prices, if you ask more details about the job and ask them for a range, they should be able to tell you whether it is within their budget or not. If they are not willing to share this information, it is a sign that such a budget does not exist… Or in the least of cases, that they do not take your work seriously and will not pay fairly.
4. Research the company or person
A quick search on Google or social media can reveal useful information about the company requesting services or the person behind a certain profile. If you can’t find any information online about the person or company, that’s a bad sign.
5. Choose a work platform with a guarantee deposit
Many freelancing platforms can be a great way to find work and avoid scams. However, within them you should always pay close attention to the types of project published, since these types of people always sneak into them.
A good way to know if you are really protected as a freelancer is if it has an escrow or guarantee deposit system . Additionally, they offer support and dispute resolution services.
As a last point, try not to carry out transactions outside the freelance work platform so that you have support that the money is actually deposited as collateral before starting. Remember to trust your instincts and hunches, if you suspect that something is not right, it probably isn’t.
If they ask you for money for any reason, rest assured that it is a scam . The same if they ask you for personal or banking information, fill out forms outside the freelance platform or deliver a large amount of work without the guarantee deposit being made.
Avoid applying to projects that show these warning signs or those whose legitimacy you have doubts. Don’t be afraid to move on to the next project. Go for those that look confident and totally honest with the requirements.
By following these tips, you can avoid being scammed when looking for freelance work. Be diligent and trust your instincts, and you’ll be fine. Always remember to be cautious and do your research before accepting any type of job offer or freelancing.