How to Avoid Freelance Scams Online

Many people are aware of the many work from home scams the internet is so full of, but the online freelance world is also abundant with scams. Scam artists often prey on those new to freelancing, but even experienced freelancers can fall prey to these scams if they don’t know what to look for. If you’re looking for freelance jobs online, you’ll want to know how to avoid freelance scams. Here are some tips.

1. Don’t blindly give away your work. Many freelance scam artists will ask for unpaid work samples. For freelance writers, they’ll sometimes ask for a “trial article” from all applicants to determine the best writer to hire. However, most of these scammers aren’t actually ever planning to hire a writer. What they do is take all the free articles and use them on their own websites or resell them illegally. As the original author, you won’t get credit for your work or ever get paid for the articles. If someone asks for a writing sample, send them a link to something you’ve already written that has been previously published on a client’s website. This way, if the person requesting the writing samples is running a scam, they’ll be less apt to steal work that has already been published elsewhere.

2. Don’t give away too much personal information. Scam artists trying to commit social security number scams, identity fraud scams or other business scams will often harvest social security numbers and bank account information by pretending they are a legitimate business owner hiring for a job. They’ll ask applicants for their social security numbers and say it’s for a background check, or say they need to have this information on file for future tax purposes. If you work for a single employer and earn more than $600 in one year, employers are required to report your earnings to the IRS and will therefore need your social security number. However, there is no reason someone who hasn’t even hired you yet should require your SSN. Similarly, don’t give away your bank account information. Under no circumstances should anyone need your account numbers before they hire you. If they want to pay you by direct deposit after they’ve hired you and you’ve done the job, that’s up to you. A safer way to go about this is to use PayPal. This way, the employer doesn’t have access to your bank account directly.

3. Get everything in writing. If a client doesn’t offer you a contract, you should use your own contract or a letter of agreement. If someone is not planning to pay you or is otherwise trying to scam you, they will be less likely to do so if you have the terms spelled out in a legally binding document. It is common practice in freelancing to ask for partial payment in advance, especially for new clients. So, if you haven’t worked with a client before, and you are contracted to do a large amount of work, it is wise to secure at least one third of your payment up front. If the client is legitimate and can afford to pay you after you complete the work, they shouldn’t have a problem with paying you a portion in advance. If you’re signing a client’s contract, make sure the terms clearly spell out when you will be paid. If the terms state you will be “paid on publication” then make sure you know when your work will be published. Some scammers use a contract that states they will pay on publication, but they haven’t even launched a publication yet. If the terms state you can’t resell your work until after the publication date, you are ultimately going to have to wait until whatever time they may or may not decide to actually publish your work. It may be in several months, or it may be never.

Looking for legitimate freelance jobs? Check the Go Freelance job boards for all types of freelance work, ranging from freelance writing jobs to graphic design jobs, web site design projects to virtual assistant work. All jobs posted to Go Freelance are screened for legitimately before they go live on the site, so there is less chance of finding the typical work at home scams you’ll find on so many other job boards.