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3bc53a90
Community Member

Criminal Background Check?

I've posted a number of times recently about possible red flag clients (after getting burned once) and I appreciate all those that have been responding and helping me try to avoid accepting a contract that could turn ugly. 

 

After about a half an hour interview yesterday, a potential client messaged today that he would like to move forward with an hourly contract with me, after I complete a criminal background check.  This client does not have a history on Upwork but his payment method is verified.  Based on our conversation, he seemed legit but I'm not really loving the fact that we went through a half hour interview in which he never mentioned he would require a background check.  I'm an accountant so it's not entirely unusual that a client would want to make sure I don't have any financial crimes on my record, but this isn't likely a long term job, just a few weeks of financial review and consulations on accounting best practices.  Although, part of the job would require me to review financial records, I would never have access to his banking as part of this contract.  I also have to provide my email address to get the background check link emailed to me and I'm worried about violating the TOS.  What would you do?

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celgins
Community Member

Nope -- I wouldn't do it.

 

Throughout my career, I have been subjected to a multitude of background checks due to my clientele's work environments, and background investigations almost always involve the disclosure of a considerable amount of personal information (e.g., credit history, previous addresses, work history, relationships, and many others) depending on the type of investigation performed. Even if the client doesn't need some of this background information, they might still have access to it.

 

I think you saw my response to your other message about possible red flags with another job. This client, too, isn't necessarily showing red flags by requesting a background check. But like you said, this isn't a long-term deal and you won't have access to the client's most senstive banking data. In my opinion, there is no solid reason for a background check.

 

You talked to the client for 30 minutes and I think they want to hire you. There is no reason why the client can't initiate an Upwork contract, fully execute a well-crafted NDA and accounting contract, and provide you the requirements needed to start work.

 

If they want to do a background check, and you agree to it, they can do it after an Upwork contract is started--not before.

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celgins
Community Member

Nope -- I wouldn't do it.

 

Throughout my career, I have been subjected to a multitude of background checks due to my clientele's work environments, and background investigations almost always involve the disclosure of a considerable amount of personal information (e.g., credit history, previous addresses, work history, relationships, and many others) depending on the type of investigation performed. Even if the client doesn't need some of this background information, they might still have access to it.

 

I think you saw my response to your other message about possible red flags with another job. This client, too, isn't necessarily showing red flags by requesting a background check. But like you said, this isn't a long-term deal and you won't have access to the client's most senstive banking data. In my opinion, there is no solid reason for a background check.

 

You talked to the client for 30 minutes and I think they want to hire you. There is no reason why the client can't initiate an Upwork contract, fully execute a well-crafted NDA and accounting contract, and provide you the requirements needed to start work.

 

If they want to do a background check, and you agree to it, they can do it after an Upwork contract is started--not before.

3bc53a90
Community Member

All makes good sense. I almost forgot about the NDA.  I'll definitely mention that I'd happly sign an NDA.

feed_my_eyes
Community Member

I wouldn't hand over all my ID and sensitive information to someone with no Upwork history. A verified payment method means nothing at all. Did you actually see this person on a video call and find them on a company web page, Linked In or similar so that you could match their face to a name and a legit company, at least? I would first try telling him that Upwork has already verified your identity and point to your 20 previous Upwork jobs, or provide references from other clients.

I did see his face but I didn't take down the name of the company unfortunately, and his Upwork profile is only under his own name.  I like the idea of reminding him that Upwork has verified my identity and that my work history can be viewed on my profile.  Definitely going to add that to my message in which I also politely decline to provide my social security number for a background check.  

6bfcdaf8
Community Member

In the best case the client can be problematic. They will take their feedback scores as seriously and will rate you 3.92. In the worst case you will find yourself a victim of identity theft. 

 

I'd tell the client that nature of upwork freelancing is lots of short term jobs and you can't go around distributing your private information to thousands of "potential" clients. But after they hire you on upwork and start a contract they will be able to see your name surname and address through upwork invoices. 

Re: you can't go around distributing your private information to thousands of "potential" clients

 

This is exactly what I was thinking too.  I forgot that my last name isn't visible until a contract starts, so that's worth mentioning in my reply.  You're probably right that the client may be problematic and if he moves on to another candidate because I declined the background check, it'll be for the best.

fe9b8d82
Community Member

Hard no on this from me as well.  Your history on Upwork means something, and if a potential client isn't willing to give some weight to your past performance, that's an issue.

Further, when you take your tax returns or other financial info to a local accountant, do you demand proof of a background check from them as well?

Just because this interaction is taking place on Upwork, doesn't mean that the client gets to hold all the cards.

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