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Aug 15, 2016
Avoiding the pitfalls of circumvention

"I’ll just send you the money through PayPal, let’s talk offline."


Seems pretty innocent, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, requests like these often lead an unsuspecting freelancer to agree to receive payment off the Upwork platform. What may start as an innocuous request is actually a violation of Upwork policies and has some pretty serious ramifications (including getting suspended from the site).


“Circumvention” is a term we use for the practice of taking payments off the Upwork site. It’s a harmful practice and we don’t want anyone to fall victim to requests for moving a project off Upwork.


Why is this such a big deal?

Well, we spend a lot of time and energy developing policies and creating systems like Fixed-Price Protection and Hourly Protection because we want to help protect you. We want you, the freelancer, to get paid for the work you do and we want you, the client, to get the work  you expect for your investment. Our visibility and reach only extends as far as the Upwork platform, so when payments and work delivery take place somewhere else, there’s not much we can do to investigate or help shepard both parties to a better place.


What are we doing about it?

I mentioned the time and energy we spend creating and refining our policies, payment protection programs and enforcement teams. We also keep an eye out for any red flags in a customer’s activity that might indicate circumvention is taking place. When we see those signals, we’ll act on them. We’ll do this by seeking clarification and/or removing users from the platform directly.


Protecting the integrity and experience on Upwork is something we all play a part in. And we appreciate your help. If you’re reading this, chances are you’re a solid citizen. You know it’s in everyone’s best interests to keep projects and payments on Upwork and you’re teaching others the virtues of this as well. We thank you and we ask that you continue doing so.


Have you run into any of these situations in the past (a client asking you to take the project/payments offline)? How have you handled it? How have you helped redirect your client, or educate them, on the importance of getting paid on Upwork? What advice do you have to share for a freelancer who might come across a request like this for the first time?


Let us know.