Client Requested SSN and Personal Information

I had a client who, after starting the engagement, asked me for my SSN and other personal information. I sent him other verification of my ID, but wasn't willing to give such sensitive information to a stranger on the internet.

 

When I refused, the client ended the contract and left me a bad review. The client also never paid me for the hours I spent on the project, but then went to say in my review how I had wasted his time. 

 

What can I do? As a CPA, I think this is libel and an attempt to tarnish my reputation. 

 

 

ACCEPTED SOLUTION

Robin, if you just lost Top Rated status due to this job, you could use the top rated feedback removal perk. Otherwise, perhaps you can still refund the client, and that would remove the public (but not private) feedback. As to the client's SSN request, did client mention this in the job description or during the interview? If so, you shouldn't have accepted the job, but if he didn't, then the client's being vindictive IMO.

__________________________________________________
"No good deed goes unpunished." -- Clare Boothe Luce

View solution in original post

13 REPLIES 13
petra_r
Member


Robin B wrote:The client also never paid me for the hours I spent on the project,

 


 Did you not track your hours? If you tracked them you get paid automatically.

 

As far as the feedback is concerned there isn't much you can do (other than refund) as it isn't breaking any terms of service.

 

Is it not true that you "indicated you could not complete the work due to other priorities and schedule constraints?"

Robin, if you just lost Top Rated status due to this job, you could use the top rated feedback removal perk. Otherwise, perhaps you can still refund the client, and that would remove the public (but not private) feedback. As to the client's SSN request, did client mention this in the job description or during the interview? If so, you shouldn't have accepted the job, but if he didn't, then the client's being vindictive IMO.

__________________________________________________
"No good deed goes unpunished." -- Clare Boothe Luce

John, 

 

No he did not mention it (in fact, he's ADDED it to the new job he just posted).

 

I'm a Certified Public Accountant and I've never had a client request all of my personal information. As soon as he requested it, I said I wouldn't do that and provided other information to verify my identity and qualifications. He apparently doesn't know the difference between what is reasonable to request from a freelancer versus an employee. 

 

If I refund him, will my feedback disappear from his profile as well?  I now know that a client with several jobs but NO feedback is probably one I should be hesitant to work with. 

 

 

Thank you for your help!

 

That client has an interesting history. He has a bookkeeper in the phillipines and pays most people $4/hour. The bookkeeper is getting paid $5/hour. Eeek. You shouldn't mess around with that stuff.

 

She doesn't have an SSN, so I wonder what is up with that. It's obviously not a part of his normal criteria because you are the first US person he hired.

I absolutely did NOT indicate I couldn't do the job because of other priorities; that's why it's so frustrating.  He asked for my SSN, I told him I wasn't comfortable giving him that. I did however provide him a copy of my CPA license and my ID and offered to have a video conference so he could see exactly who he was working with. Rather than do that, he closed the contract and left negative feedback. He clearly doesn't understand the difference between an employee and a contractor.

 

And as far as not getting paid, the client required me to have two phone call/meetings. I wasn't sure how to track that in the app. Any suggestions? 

 

Also, are you saying that if I give him a refund (which he did pay for the work I did to set up his QBO file), the feedback will be removed? 

 

Thank you for your help!

 

Robin, all the old timers around here thought that with a full refund, public feedback would be removed. However, a relatively new moderator contradicted this directly. So until we get a confirmation, correction, or whatever, I suggest you stand pat. And it being Labor Day weekend and all, you may have to stand pat a bit longer than usual.

__________________________________________________
"No good deed goes unpunished." -- Clare Boothe Luce
kenstone
Member

Wow Yeah so if client pays Upwork and Upwork pays us there is no need to ever give a SSN right?  It's not like they (the client) are going to 1099 us?  

Upwork reports to the IRS so don't play that game. If you make over $20k, they will send you a 1099.

Oh yeah, I'm not talking about not paying taxes I just meant that there is never a need to give a client a SSN because Upwork handles it all.  Correct?

 

So if I ever get a client that says I need your SSN for 1099 I can say 'no you don't Upwork hands all that' right?

Correct, because they are technically buying services from Upwork and then Upwork is selling you. 

 

It's like when you work for a consulting company. The busines pays the consulting company something like $70/hour and then pays you $40/hour. You never give your info to the company you're working with, but they trust that the consulting company is paying you, doing a background check, gathering your info, etc. You get your money from the consulting company but you're working with a different business.

 

Kinda like that except IRL you usually work as a full time employee for the consulting company and you're classified as a w2 employee. In this respect, you're working as a contractor. Upwork will 1099 you at the end of the year but they only send you a paper copy if you make over $20k.

 

Upwork is your client really. You sell your services to them and they resell you to their customers. You're basically their product.

 

That's how it is for US people. I don't know all the Euro stuff.

Robin, another moderator officially confirmed that with a full refund, public feedback will be removed:

https://community.upwork.com/t5/Freelancers/Does-public-feedback-remain-if-there-is-a-full-refund/m-...

 

I still think you should think twice before doing that. I'm certain it will count as an unsuccessful job in Job Success computation, and the no doubt negative private feedback from the client remains. An alternative would be to write a rebuttal commentary on the client's comment, giving your perspective in a dispassionate, professional tone. Good luck regardless.

__________________________________________________
"No good deed goes unpunished." -- Clare Boothe Luce

From reading the client's feedback it appears he was looking for that info in order to run a background check. Common practice for an employee and for an employee to demand of a consulting company. However, that doesn't translate well to an on-line freelancing forum. Perhaps if it were a local company and freelancer relationship it could be made to work, but again in this type of forum it shouldn't be expected that a freelancer would provide this info. If it's client company policy then certainly it should be stated upfront before any offer is made and accepted. 

 

I would suggest that if you have written proof of this ask, hopefully in the UW messaging center, that it would be worth raising the case with UW. UW is constantly, and rightfully, advising people to not give this very info to clients. Since it wasn't listed in the initial JD, this cannot be considered a fair or proper ask.

 

Lastly, you should have been more direct in your review of the client. Given the situation, you gave him a higher number of stars than you should have and were too kind in your description of what went wrong. I am not speaking if your response to his review but rather the direct review you left for the client when it was still in a double-blind state. 

I had a background check done in June, but it was through an official bakground checking company (hireright, one of the biggest international ones) and not through by the client themselves..