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Clients Asking for Personal Documents Normal?

j_manchester
New Forum Member
Hey Odesk Family - I just had a client ask me for identification to prove both my nationality and level of education (specifically, they were asking for a copy of my diploma/degree). I've never been asked this before, and as a Canadian freelancer, I am naturally concerned about things like identity theft. Is asking for this sort of documentation a normal and permitted practice on Odesk? It just seems a bit questionable to me! Any thoughts?
18 REPLIES 18
wabbles
Active
Direct the client to that if your university has one. It probably does, they have been around for 15 or more years. Any intelligent HR person or business owner knows about them. As far as nationality, that's a little offensive and I don't know how you would prove it without opening yourself to identity theft. So maybe ask why they want/need to know your nationality. I suspect they want to make sure they are hiring a native English speaker but that's not the way to go about it.
llutz
Ace Contributor

I logged onto the forum to find an answer to this topic as well.

 

The job proposal I am applying for states:

"Please send a resume, 3 references of last employers (when you worked as an editor), and 2 writing samples -- preferably one creative (poetry welcome), and one non-fiction. Please send a scan of your university degree."

 

The hiring party is a university professor at a major institution in my area. I researched them and they appear legitimate.

 

It's not out of the ordinary for academics to ask for this, as it is standard in the University system to show a resume and even transcripts.

 

They also encouraged me to contact them at the university address, but I am avoiding doing so because I don't want to infringe on Upwork policy.

 

This person has hired and paid people from Upwork before, so that was also reassuring to me. The freelancer recently hired is very professional, (I confirmed them online too); but it would not be appropriate for me to contact them and ask how their experience was.

 

To my shegrin, the email exchanges are now strange, with actually poor grammar (though this person may not be a native English speaker based on their published works). I regret this might be a fake account and someone is using this professor's identity. Though I am trying to be objective/considerate that some highly professional people are lacking in email skills.

 

Unfortunately, more of my personal information is now shared with this person. I have a prominant public identity anyway, so hopefully nothing bad will happen.

 

My gut is telling me to withdraw my proposal, but I gave them a "test" this time.

If they don't pass I am withdrawing my proposal.

mbroznovat
Community Leader

If you have a job proposal, invite, or whatever, you can contact them outside of oDesk. So the below does not apply:

 

"They also encouraged me to contact them at the university address, but I am avoiding doing so because I don't want to infringe on Upwork policy."

 

In fact, I would urge you to contact them directly and see if this is legit or not. The only thing that your infringe upon Upwork policy at this point would be getting paid outside of Upwork. So check first, before doing anything .... 

Turns out she called for a phone interview, so this one is legitimate! It's unfortunate that people are not honest here, but glad to know that this time it all worked out fine. 

m_njari
Community Guru

Leora wrote:

Turns out she called for a phone interview, so this one is legitimate! It's unfortunate that people are not honest here, but glad to know that this time it all worked out fine. 

 
Still, don't let your guard down. The period I did recently, I got 'captured' by 3 unscrupulous people/clients. I really don't know how everything works, and I'm wondering how a phone interview underlines legitimacy. 
 
Good luck!
 
 

 

 

llutz
Ace Contributor

Sorry to hear that you were scammed. My concern was that someone was using her identity to post fake jobs and to gather personal data. This turned out to be a false assumption on my part.

 

Firstly, this person actually has a huge online presense, but after speaking with her it was clear that she was indeed the person who posted the job, and is seeking a freelancer.

 

In addition, she happens to know the Chair of a University that I used as a reference. It's a small world! I confirmed with my reference that she is indeed following up with a recommendation phone call and does know the person.

goodbath
Active

is this message normal? this client never hired people and his doesn´t has the paid verified...

 

"Thanks for your response on my job.
Then I hope to see your Bill document and ID card image now.
This project is very important for me now so I hope to see that.
And from my bad experiences, I hope to check your identification first and we can work together in the future.
I think your ID card and Bill document image capture is not so difficult for you, I think.
"

 

 

 


@Moises N wrote:

is this message normal? this client never hired people and his doesn´t has the paid verified...

 

"Thanks for your response on my job.
Then I hope to see your Bill document and ID card image now.
This project is very important for me now so I hope to see that.
And from my bad experiences, I hope to check your identification first and we can work together in the future.
I think your ID card and Bill document image capture is not so difficult for you, I think.
"

 

 

 


 Someone wants to at best use your details to open an Upwork account and verify it, at worst steal your identity, open accounts, get credit, buy things etc in your name.

 

Is it "normal?"            Who cares

Is it "safe?"                 HELL NO!!!!

 

There are very VERY few situations I would ever dream of sending any client any ID documents. I have been asked before, I declined every time except once, after I was hired, from a client who is a household name with millions spent on Upwork.

 

PS, send him this:

 

id.jpg

vladag
Community Manager
Community Manager

Hi Moises,

 

No, it's not normal and you should never share your ID, billing statement or any other sensitive document or details with other people on and off Upwork. I'll reach out to our team and have this client removed from the platform.

 

Thanks for sharing this client's message. Please review these safety tips which will help you identify questionable jobs and requests, and check this list of resources new freelancer are advised to go through before submitting their first proposals on Upwork.

Untitled

Thanks Vladi for your quick answer !

noky44
Active

The is another employer called **edited for Community Guidelines**, whocontacted me via skype and asked for a bunch of documents. The chat went like this:

 

**edited for Community Guidelines** 

 

Because of his broken language, I am not certain whether this guy is genuinely illitirate, or just mocking on me 😃

kat303
Community Guru

Mikhail M - Are  you serious???? Why on earth would you trust a stranger located somewhere in the world, who you've just met? And you give this Stranger ALL your personal information?

 

Have you read Upwork's TOS? And if not, why not? Do you know what scams to look out for? Don't you read instructions when assembling something? Don't you read content when taking a test of any kind? Why wouldn't you read about how to use Upwork and what to look out for.

 

You've been scammed. I have no idea what they will do with that information you so freely gave. Watch out for identity theft. Watch your bank or credit card accounts.

 

And before you look for anymore jobs, please read up on Upwork's procedures.

I can almost guarantee that person is not Dutch (I'm pretty sure I know where they're from based on their English language use but I'm not going to say because I'll get censored anyway). And the job is a scam. And you may be a victim of identity theft.

 

In future, any client who asks for that information, politely tell them that Upwork verifies freelancer identities if they believe it's needed and that you do not provide those documents for security reasons. Perhaps offer a video Skype call instead.


@Jennifer D wrote:

I can almost guarantee that person is not Dutch (I'm pretty sure I know where they're from based on their English language use)


 Chinese.


@Petra R wrote:

@Jennifer D wrote:

I can almost guarantee that person is not Dutch (I'm pretty sure I know where they're from based on their English language use)


 Chinese.


 Nope, not my guess. I would guess West African.

Hi Mikhail, 


It is unusual for clients to request for freelancer's ID and address, and we would recommend not meeting such requests. If in the future you are asked the same, you may give your general location, such as City or State. 

I have sent the transcript of your chat to the team for their review, and they will take actions on the client's account if necessary. 


~ Avery
Upwork

If clients ask for identity information I always suggest telling them:

"Yes, Upwork has that on file and you can get that information directly from them."

 

This has the benefit of working with both newbie clients who don't know they're not supposed to ask for that info, and this response works with scammers, too.

 

Scammers won't bother asking Upwork for the info. And if real clients actually ask Upwork for the info, they will be informed about how Upwork does actually have the identity confirmation details on file. But Upwork won't release any information it shouldn't to clients.


@Preston H wrote:

If clients ask for identity information I always suggest telling them:

"Yes, Upwork has that on file and you can get that information directly from them."

 



 Which is a lie. I see the trick you're trying to pull and true, scammers won't bother, but it misleads clients into thinking they can get ID documents from Upwork and that Upwork holds ID for their freelancers.

 

What is the point of lying when the truth is far easier and more educational? Why instruct freelancers to barefaced lie to clients?

 

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