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Community Member

How does Upwork vet freelancers and stop fake accounts?

This problem used to be a nuisance, but now it's beginning to have an effect on our business.

In the past week I've interviewed 7 people -- all of them had names and profile pics that were completely detached from the person I was talking to.

It used to be something that happened 1 out of 5 times. Now, I can't seemt to get a conversation with someone who is the person they say they are.

I don't have problems hiring people from different countries -- but I do have problems with hiring people who are clearly lying in their profile.

I'm also concerned about reporting these fake accounts because if these freelancers are as skilled as they claim to be, I'm concerned that reporting them will result in vindictive behavior.


We don't have time to be messing around with fake freelancers. We have deadlines to meet, and need to be hiring as efficiently as possible.

What is Upwork doing to guarantee that the freelancers are who they say are? Vetting procedures could be implemented.


If Upwork can't demonstrate that this is something they're actively combating, it won't be worth it to work with Upwork anymore -- and that would genuinely be a shame because Upwork is very useful, when it works out.

Community Member

Hey Mate

Yeah, there are many fake accounts like that yet there are some things like they might be a team of freelancers operating from a single account, as I am a freelancer my self I can understand your point and strongly agree on faking the id is just not a proper way of communication.

And Upwork has already implemented the procedure to avoid fake Freelancers, Where they provide a verification badge right next to the freelancer if they have successfully verified their Account.

Do One thing and try to check the verification badge right next to the profile image.

Jay Joshi

Thanks for the reply -- unfortunately the checkmark seems to be easily gamed. The people who have checkmarks still don't match their profile.

Community Manager
Community Manager

I'm sorry to hear about your experience, Jason.


While we do take action when we learn a freelancer is not following our Terms of Service, we do not vet freelancers or guarantee that the information they provide in their profile is true or accurate. We do offer certain payment protections and, in certain cases, dispute assistance because we know that occasional issues can arise between a client and freelancer.


I've shared this report with our team and they'll reach out to you directly and assist with locating the right talent for your projects.

~ Bojan

Thank you for your prompt reply, Bojan


Admittedly, I was surprised to read this statement:

we do not vet freelancers or guarantee that the information they provide in their profile is true or accurate.

That leads me to two other questions, then:

  1. Why not?
  2. What is the purpose of the blue "verified" checkmark?

As mentioned, we've had some very good experiences finding quality talent on Upwork, and that's why we keep coming back. But as of recent, as far as I can tell, that is becoming less and less true. We work in a very deadline-heavy environment, and the time spent having to sift through what are basically spam/catfish accounts is starting to outweigh the benefits of using Upwork. We don't expect to find the perfect candidate right away every time, but integrity counts for a lot.

It's not so much a matter of having you locate the right talent for our projects -- it's more a matter of ensuring the quality of the talent you are offering.

Upwork practices multiple identity verification protocols on freelancers, including live video verification calls and checking freelancers' government-issued ID.


So there actually is a lot being done, more than you seem to realize.


But you are correct that there are still freelancers who game the system or who have not yet been asked to undergo the protocols.


It is true that Upwork can't guarantee that all aspects of all profiles are accurate. And Upwork does not "vet" all of the information on profile pages. But it IS Upwork's intention that the information is accurate, and with regards to names, profile photos and locations, the verification protocols are fairly extensive.


This topic is discussed often in the Forum. So we know that many clients - if this a concern for them - use video interviews when hiring freelancers.

I wonder if you've updated this reply? UpWork's 'policy & help' are pretty worthless. In my case anyway. VET FREELANCERS!  UpWork acts like "we do vet" TO "it's not our job to vet". They keep straddling this line. But, imo, time is running out.

Frank Sparacino
Community Member

While searching for a Shopify expert, I've already seen 10+ resumes that stated they built the **Edited for community guidelines** website.  So I hired one of them... and lost $2,200.


There needs to be some sort of filter or NO ONE is going to trust UpWork freelancers.

re: "There needs to be some sort of filter or NO ONE is going to trust UpWork freelancers."


Upwork does not vet freelancers.


As a client, you can may use your own vetting techniques.


That's kind of a throwaway response that doesn't help anyone -- it just shuts the door in our faces -- and it's not even true.

Upwork definitely vets freelances enough to label them as "Rising Stars" or to make "Best Match" recommendations. What they don't vet is the bad apples.

Please don't throw this back on the clients. Clients who come to Upwork generally don't have in-house HR departments to do vetting -- let alone experience interviewing developers, as many clients aren't even technical experts.


Upwork could do a lot more to vet bad apples. But they don't. This damages the quality of their product.

re: "Upwork definitely vets freelances enough to label them as 'Rising Stars' or to make 'Best Match' recommendations. What they don't vet is the bad apples."


I would strongly advise all clients to avoid using the words "vet" or "vetting" in relation to any actions Upwork takes in presenting some freelancers over other freelancers. Such as is done in the "Rising Stars" or "Best Match" recommendations.


These features are the result of automated algorithms. They do not represent the resuls of "vetting" in any sense of the word that I am familiar with.


I have hired over 140 freelancers on Upwork. I have been extremely satisfied with the results. This represents real money. Of course I don't continue to hire Upwork freelancers for no reason.


Most hires have been successful. But not all.

A large part of my success as a client is due to the fact that I assume that not all hires will be successful. I assume that freelancers are not vetted.


Therefore, I monitor a freelancer's work, especially early on, and I am ready to quickly fire a freelancer if it turns out that the freelancer is not a good fit for my project.


I am not familar with any successful way in which Upwork vets freelancers.


I am familiar with Upwork's EXTENSIVE identity verificiation protocols. But that is not the same as "vetting."


If a freelancer says they live in Bangladesh and their name is Sharmin, then there is a very high probability that the freelancer is telling the truth. But that is different than if the freelancer claims he knows how to set up a Shopfiy site in conjunction with a Postgre backend, or if the freelancer says he has a bachelors degree. Upwork has not vetted that freelancer to ascertain whether such claims are true.

Screen Shot 2021-12-13 at 2.34.47 PM.png





I don't know what other sense the word could be used in -- but it doesn't make a difference.

Upwork evaluates for possible good matches, but not for possible bad matches. That's too bad, because the more false accounts I run into, the less I trust their product.



re: "the less I trust their product."


I don't regard Upwork's product as vetted freelancers.

Their product is the opportunity to find, hire and pay freelancers.

Preston H wrote:

I don't regard Upwork's product as vetted freelancers.

Their product is the opportunity to find, hire and pay freelancers.

These are distinctions without a difference. If the product is an "opportunity to find, hire and pay freelancers", and the quality of those opportunities is inconsistent, the product is effected.

Consider a dating app: if all the potential matches are catfishing you, the dating app suffers.

re: "and the quality of those opportunities is inconsistent"


I'm not sure what you mean.


Of course the quality is inconsistent.


That's the point.


The quality of freelancers is wildly inconsistent.

That is intentional.

Preston H wrote:


Of course the quality is inconsistent.


That's the point.


The quality of freelancers is wildly inconsistent.

That is intentional.


Jason F wrote:

Preston H wrote:


Of course the quality is inconsistent.


That's the point.


The quality of freelancers is wildly inconsistent.

That is intentional.


Well, it's not intentional in the sense that Upwork actively encourages bad freelancers to join, it's just that not all clients require the same level of expertise. There are clients who are quite willing to put up with inexperience/slowness/not-so-great work quality in exchange for getting a cheap deal. Problems more frequently occur when clients expect expert work at low rates.

I simply expected to hire a decent, good worker who was supposed to be an ATTORNEY. I didn't realize it was worse than hiring the guys outside home dept! Upwork doesn't even check degrees?! Wtf!? Accecpting this is just wrong.

"The quality of freelancers is wildly inconsistent. That is intentional."

WHAT?! Unreal, go ahead drink more koolaid!

Frank Sparacino
Community Member

Frank S wrote:

"The quality of freelancers is wildly inconsistent. That is intentional."

WHAT?! Unreal, go ahead drink more koolaid!

On which planet did you grow up? People have different skills and experience and yes, that is normal. And yes, variety is intentional and natural within groups of people, in this case freelancers, so clients can find someone suitable within their requirements and budget. Aside from fake profiles which are indeed annoying, variety in skills is good. Your hysterical posts are funny.

Upwork charges both parties & has other revenue streams. Not vetting everyone UpWork puts out to the public to hire is going to be a major problem, it'll catch up to them. Charging fees & operating this way is ABSURD. People, especially new people, go8ng to UpWork ASSUME. EXPECT all these people are vetted. Come on!

Frank Sparacino

Jason F wrote:

Upwork evaluates for possible good matches 

No, they don't. They use algorithms to determine best matches and who gets a rising talent badge, and these could be based on total lies that a freelancer has put into their profile. Somebody could probably say that they have a master's degree and 12 years of experience and get a rising talent badge as a result, but Upwork doesn't verify this information. As for best matches, I've seen people get marked a best match when they have no experience and don't even claim to have the skill required in a job post, so you can't use that as any reliable indication of quality, either. I think that the best way to find a suitable freelancer (contrary to Preston's advice) is by asking questions before you hire someone, and evaluate how intelligently they respond. And, as always, you get what you pay for, so you can't expect the same level of quality from a $5 freelancer as you would from a $100 one. 

I regard most "vetting" and most "interviewing" as a waste of time.


I have no way of knowing how a freelancer will perform on my project before hiring him.

So you just hire the first person that pops up on your screen and then go down the list until you hire one that you can keep?

I'm admittedly interested in learning more about your process because my team and I spend a lot of time trying to find quality candidates.

re: "So you just hire the first person that pops up on your screen and then go down the list until you hire one that you can keep?"



For many of the jobs I post, I hire the first person who applies.


I know how to write very precise, succinct job postings.

With these job postings, only the right people apply to the job.


I am often able to post a job and then hire a freelancer within 10 minutes. Then we can get started on the work very quickly.


For other jobs, I let more freelancers apply before hiring one.


I don't spend any time interviewing any of them.


I look at their hourly rate. I look at their portfolios. I look at their skill lists. For example, if I want to hire illustrators, I make sure that their skill lists show that they are illustrators and not something else (Dutch language translators, pet-related blog writers, Wordpress configurationists, etc.)


I regularly hire freelancers without any discussion. I click the hire button and they are able to go to work.

Once again, the reason this is possible is because I write succinct, precise job postings which explain the project in full. So only people who are interested in doing the work apply, and once they are hired, they don't need any additional information from me.


I understand this doesn't work for every project or every type of work. But these techniques work for a wide variety of jobs that I hire for.


Note that I often hire multiple freelancers for the same task.


This works well for smaller projects, because once all of the freelancers have submitted their work, I have more than one selection to choose from.


This technique also works well for longer-term jobs.

There is no way to predict how a particular freelancer will work out for a job. So a key to successful hiring is to hire multiple people, evaluate their work, and then continue working only with the very best ones. Be able to quickly fire underperforming freelancers.

Ok, now it's clear that we have much different businesses and we're trying to hire very different people to fill very different roles.

Most all of what you're proposing just isn't possible or even feasible for us. If we took your approach, we'd be in a lot of trouble and wasting a lot money we don't have.

Please understand that your advice applies to your needs, and that other businesses can have very different needs.

Hi Kevin,


I'm sorry to hear about your experience. One of our team members will reach out to you directly via a support ticket to look into your report and assist you accordingly. 


Thank you! 

~ Bojan
Community Member

How about looking at the freelancer's track record on the site to see if they're qualified for the work you want done? It's seems to be the only reliable way. Upwork can't really guarantee that a freelancer's claims about him/herself are true, but what the site does do well is allow people to prove their worth through the feedback they get. It's hard for dishonest people to game the feedback system.

Community Member

it's a LOT worse since you posted this! HOW can they not vet?! BUT, they DO VET for the top 1%? Right there shows THEY realize they NEED to, SHOULD be vetting. I pretty got scammed. I thought UpWork was 'safer'. To hire someone & pay them, then they 'end contract' with no notice, not being able to properly get to reviewing work, is a TERRIBLE business model. This WILL come to bite UpWork. Right now clients & freelaners are 'paying the price'. It's pretty much 'luck of the draw.' I don't think I can trust UpWork. I lost thousands & really the 'freelancer' abided by UpWork rules! Something is VERY wrong w/this scenario.

Frank Sparacino
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