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Background Checks: How are clients handling these

What is Upwork's policyregarding background checks?  I am about to extend an offer to a freelancer. However, this freelancer will likely have access to sensitive proprietary data  (and personal information of my clients(e.g., social security numbers, credit cards, bank information etc.). Obviously I will be using an NDA, but when I searched  the forum for background checks, the majority of posts seem to dissuade freelancers from completing them for fear of identiy theft. While I understand the concern, in certain industries, credit, and background checks are standard for many types of work, even when work is conducted by freelancers vs. employees.  Does upwork have a mechanism for completing background checks or what are other clients/owners doing to make sure the freelancers have appropriate credentials and satisfactory background history?


Thanks for any responses

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Upwork has no mechanisms in place for this as far as I know. You can talk about it with freelancers, but I strongly doubt any seasoned or smart one would send ID documents to some stranger on the Internet.


If you have a solid client account with hiring history, money spend and good ratings, it may happen. But if you're brand new, I doubt you will have much success getting personal details from anyone.

"Where darkness shines like dazzling light"   —William Ashbless

Agree with Renee. Most of us are freelancers for the freedom part. I wouldn't send information like that to a client, though I do understand your desire to feel secure with the person you choose to hire.

You're perhaps in a position where it would be best to employ rather than contract so that you can have that information.
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I already have one active contract that has been in place since last summer, so I am not that new. My current freelancer did provide me with ID information and address information but that freelancer does not have access to the critical data of my clients. However my new job proposal is signficantly more technical and requires the person to have access to my client data to complete the tasks. The goal is ultimately to hire a permanent person but has not turned out well so far, so I decided to go the freelancer route, hoping to possible convert to a longterm contract or ultimately an employee.  There are no guarantees, even an employee may steal client data or company information, but I don't understand the reluctance given the type of job I am posting. I will see if I can work it out with the freelancer.  Thanks for the feedback.

@Jessica C wrote:

 I don't understand the reluctance given the type of job I am posting. 

It comes from the fact that freelancers on online platforms are targeted by scammers and identity thieves. So the natural reaction is to only use the tools that Upwork provides.

"Where darkness shines like dazzling light"   —William Ashbless

You can ask Upwork (with the freelancer's permission) to ID-verify the freelancer, if they aren't already (many are.)

If you are after a proper background check suggest it to the freelancer and use one of the established background checking agencies.


I underwent both ID verification and a background check for my main contract. But the client used a well established international company for this and is a huge Enterprise client I have been working with for a long time so that was a bit different.


Under no circumstances should a client expect that a freelancer send them sensitive data directly and by email or some such, for example.


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if you are hiring a freelancer to work with sensitive data, there is really no way to guarantee that person's reliability and trustworthiness no matter what kind of "background checks" Upwork may provide. Upwork simply is not in the business of checking out people's backgrounds extensively and vouching for them. That is not a service that they provide.


Having said that, I believe you are perfectly safe in hiring freelancers to work on this data, as long as you hire professionals with a significant positive work history. Look at their Upwork job history. If there are many satisfied clients who have vouched for the quality of the freelancer's work, then I feel you can rely on the freelancer.


I am not available for hire through the Forum, I'm just here to help answer a question. But let me say that as a database professional I routinely work on sensitive data for clients who hire me through Upwork. This includes personal financial data, patient medical data, credit card data, etc.


Genuine professional freelancers have NOT INTEREST in stealing your data or using it in any way at all other than in performing the tasks you assign them. Freelancers are here to earn money by working for clients. Genuine database professionals consider the security of your data to be a sacred trust.


And even if they were not honest people, your data has no intrinsic value to them. Your data is valuable to YOU. For the freelancer, they only profit from your payments to them through Upwork.

Many freelancers would not give out their personal information to some one they just met on internet.  (I personally even would not patronize the business if I find out if their back office is crawling with random people). 


You have to make a value judgement. 


What is more important to you?  Save money by Hiring random people who may breach the trust your customers have placed in you or pay the price and hire locally whom you or cops can knock on the door and put him to jail.


But if money raher than customer trust and safety is more important.  You may Consider approaching legitimate companies (many medium to large coporations often employe them).  You pay the cost and ask the freelancer to fill the stuff on their site with the results forwarded to you.

So, in my previous post in this thread I was considering the information that the client gives to the freelancer.


The other concern in this thread (maybe the primary concern) is the information that the client asks the freelancer to provide.


I hardly ever think about this.


Clients simply don't ask me for personal information.


Generally speaking, it's not appropriate for clients to ask for personal information.


Most of my clients never even have a personal email address, Skype handle or phone number for me. That doesn't apply to every freelancer, of course. It is fine to share some limited contact information. It's just that in my own case, most clients communicate via Upwork messenger and they don't need anything else.

Another approach you may want to take (yeah it will cost you money) is to create a fake data base with whatever stuff you have in real data base.  Ask the freelancer to extract data form this fake one and once you are happy have some one in house to di a switch. 


Most outfits with sensitive data use this approach even if they outsource the work (but they also don't outsource to random people either).

Great tip from Prashant. Having developers and other freelancers work only with fake data is a 100% sure-fire way to prevent them from accessing your secure information, as long as you don't provide access credentials to the real database.


This involves some extra effort... but I don't think it has to be overly expensive or time-consuming.

Community Member

Working in finance and real estate, I appreciate and understand the need for background and credit checks. In the brick and mortar world, it's required. You can't even get in the door for an interview without one.


Freelancing is a different arena. I would happily provide proof of errors and omissions insurance directly to the client. I might slimly-possibly-maybe consider a background check through a verified third party provider who approves applicants on a pass / fail basis.


No chance whatsoever would I provide personally identifiable information directly to an Upwork client. I don't care how strong their Upwork profile, feeback, and hiring history is.


If the insistance is for personally identifiable information to be provided directly, the best bet is to hire an employee.

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