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b64a2954
Community Member

Upwork needs to do a better job vetting potential clients

Don't waste your time responding to a "payment method not verified" client. Why Upwork allows potential clients to be unverified in the first place is beyond me. Upwork needs to start doing a better job vetting these scammers. Freelancers have limited time as it is, so we don't need to waste more time chasing a lead that goes nowhere.

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tlbp
Community Member


Katy K wrote:

Okay, point taken then, thank you Jennifer. How do we fix this on both ends to make the Upwork platform work for both clients and freelancers?


Charge a fee to join the platform and a monthly fee to access it in order to cover the costs of  additional vetting. 

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76 REPLIES 76
jr-translation
Community Member

Don't waste your time responding to an "unverified" freelancer. Why Upwork allows potential freelancers to be unverified in the first place is beyond me. Upwork needs to start doing a better job vetting these scammers. Clients have limited time as it is, so they don't need to waste more time chasing a lead that goes nowhere.

Not sure what you're trying to imply here, Jennifer. But if this is a legitimate problem on the client side, then we are in agreement. How would you recommend Upwork vets freelancers? It's been my experience that most freelancers on this site are hard working individuals. It takes a long time to review and respond to potential work, with no guarantee of success. Considering the amount of effort it takes to be successful on this site, at least in my own experience, I highly doubt there are many scamming freelancers.

 

I encountered far more scammers among the freelancers than the clients.

 

A "payment method not verified" client is simply a new client who has not hired someone in the past.

Okay, point taken then, thank you Jennifer. How do we fix this on both ends to make the Upwork platform work for both clients and freelancers?

Follow the ToS and look out for yourself. We are not getting paid to fix Upwork's problems.

tlbp
Community Member


Katy K wrote:

Okay, point taken then, thank you Jennifer. How do we fix this on both ends to make the Upwork platform work for both clients and freelancers?


Charge a fee to join the platform and a monthly fee to access it in order to cover the costs of  additional vetting. 

The Freelancers on here are also VETTED before they can do most useful things, including an ID check/verification.   For new clients, no ID check is even required before they can start 'posting' stuff and doing 'interviews'.  The client can claim to be anybody, claim to be from anywhere, and nothing is verified before they start 'posting' stuff to the Job Board. There have been MANY times I have seen a job show up from a client that is supposed to be in the "United States", then look at their 'profile' in the job, and their timezone is 8-10 hours+ ahead of the East Coast (EST) of the United States, meaning they are over in another country on the other side of the globe but were able to LIE about being in the "United States" because there is no 'vetting' of new clients.  It is MUCH easier to run a scam as a 'client' than it is to run a scam as a 'freelancer' because most people can't obtain new ID cards as fast as they can get a new email address. A client that gets banned can just 'dump' that UW account and EASILY get a new one with a new e-mail address.  If you've got an email address UW's system has never seen before and can operate a computer keyboard, that is all you need to 'qualify' for a client account on UW.  A scammer's paradise, basically

That's unfortunate. Any experience with Bark? Maybe it's time to jump ship if Upwork is not willing to address the problem.

Freelancers have to verify before they can access their money, not when signing up.

I think the point is that with the dramatic increase in scam posts recently, a client with no verified payment method is no longer just a new client who has not hired someone yet, but also very likely a scammer as well. I used to apply to them, but now unless I see stars or money spent, my eyes barely register them as I scroll past them.


Peter G wrote:

I think the point is that with the dramatic increase in scam posts recently, a client with no verified payment method is no longer just a new client who has not hired someone yet, but also very likely a scammer as well. I used to apply to them, but now unless I see stars or money spent, my eyes barely register them as I scroll past them.


In many of the latest scams, the payment was verified. So, what can we do now?
What are we going to complain about?

Go to the client section then and read all the accounts of clients getting scammed by freelancers. It is a huge problem. 

tlbp
Community Member


Katy K wrote:

Not sure what you're trying to imply here, Jennifer. But if this is a legitimate problem on the client side, then we are in agreement. How would you recommend Upwork vets freelancers? It's been my experience that most freelancers on this site are hard working individuals. It takes a long time to review and respond to potential work, with no guarantee of success. Considering the amount of effort it takes to be successful on this site, at least in my own experience, I highly doubt there are many scamming freelancers.

 


How many freelancers have you interviewed and hired? 

pgiambalvo
Community Member

I'm afraid I have to agree with you. Just not worth the time since the ratio of scam to legit clients with no history is so high. I feel bad for the new legit clients who are now being ignored because of the scam problem.

mariannefrca
Community Member

Yep! Since I started on Upwork, I only work for verified and well rated clients! So far, so good!

So many scammers out there!

Knowledgeable clients should undestand that there is a severe LABOR SHORTAGE in the United States right now. And this isn't limited just to the United States. Many other places are experiencing similar conditions.

 

If a client wants to succeed in hiring quality freelancers on Upwork, he needs to "bring his A game."

 

A client needs to look like a promising prospect, or he may not be able to attract the level of talent that he needs.


This means making sure he is payment-verified.

Making sure he maintains a high hire rate.

Making sure he posts quality job descriptions that are as concise as possible, while also providing prospective freelancers with the details they want.

Cannot agree more! 


Preston H wrote:

Knowledgeable clients should undestand that there is a severe LABOR SHORTAGE in the United States right now.


There's a shortage of people who want to do jobs like pick fruit, drive trucks or wait tables, but I doubt that there's any shortage of people who want to sit at home and pretend to be writers or designers. I certainly haven't noticed any reduction in the number of people complaining in the forum that they can't get enough (or any) projects - quite the contrary.

 


Preston H wrote:

This means making sure he is payment-verified.


The more experienced freelancers have said time and time again that they don't care whether a client's payment method is verified, until the point where a client wants to hire them. 

Absolutely!  UW seems to forget that the Freelancers - the LABOR/SKILLS - are the PRODUCT for 'sale' on the platform. If the PRODUCT begins to disappear from the SHELVES - due to frustration with an avalanche of bogus job posts, or whatever reason - the paying CUSTOMERS/CLIENTS also disappear as well because there is no PRODUCT to buy.  Unfortunately, they seem only concerned about attracting Customers/Clients to the 'Store', and not very concerned about keeping Product on the Shelves.  Customers don't stay very long in an empty store.

Love this analogy CJ! We're already offering our skills and talents for WAY below market value. Why continue to subject ourselves to a broken system.


Katy K wrote:

Love this analogy CJ! We're already offering our skills and talents for WAY below market value. Why continue to subject ourselves to a broken system.


Speak for yourself. 


CJ A wrote:

Absolutely!  UW seems to forget that the Freelancers - the LABOR/SKILLS - are the PRODUCT for 'sale' on the platform. If the PRODUCT begins to disappear from the SHELVES - due to frustration with an avalanche of bogus job posts, or whatever reason - the paying CUSTOMERS/CLIENTS also disappear as well because there is no PRODUCT to buy.  Unfortunately, they seem only concerned about attracting Customers/Clients to the 'Store', and not very concerned about keeping Product on the Shelves.  Customers don't stay very long in an empty store.


Sorry to disappoint you, but Upwork has so much "product" that it wouldn't keep its shelves empty even if it had a sale.

As discussed hundreds of times already, Upwork might do a better job with certain job postings, but there are plenty of others where unless you have a guy submitting pitches, you won't be able to tell if they're scams or not.
The thing is as it is. We will continue to flag scam posts, flag "questionable" job listings, and post on the forum if we find a new scam method so Wes can add it to his awesome listing.
And we will continue to have scammers on both sides and we will continue to see how freelancers fall for scams due to ignorance (because they did not bother to know what they signed when entering Upwork), due to greed or simple stupidity.
Have you ever visited the client forum to see how many complaints there are from scamming freelancers?
So, given what has been seen, it is time for so many people who threaten to leave the platform to do so and not threaten something that Upwork cares little about.

Wow Maria, way to dumb it down or dismiss legitimate concerns on this forum. I personally take offense at your comments about "ignorance, greed or simple stupidity" on the part of freelancers. Scammers are successful because they're able to fool even the most seasoned professionals at times, so please dismount from your high horse. There is a solution here, in fact, several. Upwork take accountability and take action. Start a subscription service, increase the cost of credits, etc. Here's another crazy idea, pair the complaining clients with the complaining freelancers. I'm wasting even more of my time complaining in this forum, so there's a vetting process for you, I wouldn't be here if my concerns and my product weren't legit.

 


Katy K wrote:

Wow Maria, way to dumb it down or dismiss legitimate concerns on this forum. I personally take offense at your comments about "ignorance, greed or simple stupidity" on the part of freelancers. Scammers are successful because they're able to fool even the most seasoned professionals at times, so please dismount from your high horse. There is a solution here, in fact, several. Upwork take accountability and take action. Start a subscription service, increase the cost of credits, etc. Here's another crazy idea, pair the complaining clients with the complaining freelancers. I'm wasting even more of my time complaining in this forum, so there's a vetting process for you, I wouldn't be here if my concerns and my product weren't legit.

 


I am not simplifying anything. I'm just making it clear what's there.
And if my ratings of freelancers who fall for scams over and over again offend you, I'm sorry, I wasn't addressing you in particular.
But reality is what it is. The vast majority of scams to freelancers that we see in the forums are due to not having read the TOS (which by the way they confirmed having read when signing up) and having thrown themselves into writing proposals without knowing how the platform works.
And yes, out of greed there are freelancers scammed. As with the scam of buying crypto (or anything of that sort) thinking they're going to get a payout that's double or triple what they've invested (if not more)
So don't tell me to get off the horse, I won't.

By the way, everything you're talking about how to fix all this has already been discussed a thousand times on the forum. You can search if you are interested.

petra_r
Community Member


Katy K wrote: I personally take offense at your comments about "ignorance, greed or simple stupidity" on the part of freelancers.

Fact remains: The vast majority of scams only work if there is one or more of them (ignorance, greed or simple stupidity) on the part of the freelancer. It is very difficult to get scammed on Upwork without violating the terms of service and/or doing something stupid.

 


Katy K wrote:

Scammers are successful because they're able to fool even the most seasoned professionals at times,


Not at all. In fact, the opposite is true. The scams are kept (deliberately) detectable because the scammers are only after the low hanging fruit. They have no intention of wasting their time pn prospective victims who will wake up and smell a rat at the last minute. So the scams are kept deliberately dumb in order to weed out those who aren't likely to get scammed at an early stage.


Just about every scam I have seen mentioned here in the last over a decade would was pretty obviously a scam and required the victim to violate the terms of service and/or do something that they wouldn't have done had a modicum of critical thinking been applied.

ericaandrews
Community Member

They don't 'vet' new clients at all.  Anybody with a fresh e-mail address can create an UW client account and begin 'posting' whatever they want on the Job Board immediately.  Nobody verifies who they are. Nobody reviews or screens what they post.  People just sign up and start posting stuff.  When their account gets banned, they just grab a new email address, create a new account, and repeat-cycle - beging 'posting' stuff again.  There IS NO 'vetting' of new clients.  If you can TYPE and create an email address, you can get an UW 'client' account.  That's all the 'vetting' there is on the client side.

Thanks for the info CJ. That's unfortunate. Perhaps if we can build a concensus among freelancers, Upwork might consider doing a better job at vetting potential clients.

Katy, 

I am sorry you were scammed. However if you had read Upwork's terms of service before starting, you may have avoided the bullet.

 

The other reason for reading the ToS, is to make sure that one does not violate them in one's profile. For example, it is against the rules and regs to provide any outside contact information such as websites or social media etc. or to provide it in a proposal letter before a contract is in place. 


Nichola L wrote:

Katy, 

I am sorry you were scammed. However if you had read Upwork's terms of service before starting, you may have avoided the bullet.

 

The other reason for reading the ToS, is to make sure that one does not violate them in one's profile. For example, it is against the rules and regs to provide any outside contact information such as websites or social media etc. or to provide it in a proposal letter before a contract is in place. 


According to Valeria, links to external portfolios in the presentation are allowed. I added an external link to my portfolio when she confirmed that it could be added.
https://community.upwork.com/t5/Freelancers/Links-in-profiles/m-p/918522#M570192
And, as far as I know, providing a link to a portfolio in proposals has always been allowed. 
Am I confused about this? 🤔

Yeah... I don't think it is helpful at all to think that Upwork vets clients.

Unfortunately, it's clear thay most new freelancers think that they do and therefore feel Upwork will keep them safe when it is really up to the freelancer to do that.

I'm not a new freelancer Peter! I've been around the block, so to speak, and I was surprised to find myself the victim of a scam. I should have known better, but I let my guard down. Regarding your last sentenece, why wouldn't we assume Upwork should vet potential clients?! We are paying for credits, even though it's a nominal cost. Perhaps the service should be subscription based or we should pay more for credits? The system is broken or, at the very least, flawed.

I was just stating the way things are, not the way I think they should be. I agree that they should vet clients and meant that new freelancers assume that that already do.

wescowley
Community Member

I don’t want Upwork vetting clients any more than they already do. Three reasons:

 

1) It adds friction: anything UW does to make it harder for clients to post jobs means fewer legitimate jobs will be posted.
2) It’s intractable: They can never do enough vetting to eliminate scammers.
3) It’s expensive: UW doing more work to vet clients means they’ll likely need to raise the fees they charge freelancers, which means we need to raise the fees we charge clients, which will price out more clients.

 

To me, that second point is key. Some people might say that whatever they can do is good, even if it’s not everything. But If people think UW is vetting clients, they will assume anyone posting is legit. And that will never be true.

 

The responsibility to avoid scams has to be on the freelancer. Upwork has made it trivially easy to avoid the vast majority of the scams. If freelancers follow their rules and use contracts as they are designed, 99% of the scams go away.

 

1) don’t communicate off the platform before the contract

2) don’t exchange money outside the platform
3) don’t work without a valid Upwork contract

 

That takes care of the vast majority of scams right there. Commonsense, a bit of care, and awareness of red flags take care of almost all the rest. What remains for the most part are the people that do things like chargebacks or bullying on low-pay contracts.

 

Where Upwork has failed is in getting this information in front of freelancers BEFORE they start applying willy-nilly to jobs.

 

None of these scams are unique to Upwork or any of the other platforms. Almost all of them existed in some form or another long before Upwork did. What’s different is the large pool of freelancers who don’t know any better because 1) they haven’t taken the time to do basic research before they dive in and 2) Upwork hasn’t made the effort to get information about scams in front of them effectively before they get burned.

 

And again, the payment verification flag says absolutely nothing about whether the client is legit or not. Frankly, Upwork should just pull it from the job listings. It’s meaningless until it’s time for the offer, and seeing “payment verified” just gives some freelancers a false sense of security.

 

Freelancing platforms will never be a safe space. Freelancing outside the platforms will never be a safe space. It will always require the freelancers, no one else, to take responsibility for keeping themselves safe.

 

"And again, the payment verification flag says absolutely nothing about whether the client is legit or not. Frankly, Upwork should just pull it from the job listings. It’s meaningless until it’s time for the offer, and seeing “payment verified” just gives some freelancers a false sense of security."

 

Agree.

Thank you Wes, first reasonable reply in favor of Upwork on this issue, and done without shaming well-intentioned and hard-working freelancers. I still think the platform could be improved, and maybe it is as simple as Upwork doing a better job of disseminating that information to freelancers. Interesting about the payment verification flag, if it's not meaningful then I agree, it shouldn't be there.

Thank you all for your input on this issue. One last comment before I put at least my input to rest...if this issue has been discussed over and over and over again in this forum (as some of the shamers and deflectors have mentioned), then that means there is room for improvement. I hope Upwork takes all the input on both sides to heart to make the platform better for both freelancers and clients. Good night and good luck out there!

Upwork actually does try to take "all input on both sides to heart".  What it can't do is to force people to read its ToS.  

 

Nobody is "shaming" you Katy, merely pointing out that non-compliance with Upwork's rules and regs  invariably leads to disappointment and discontent, and at worst account suspension, which can sometimes happen if one provides a website URL  and contact information on one's profile or in proposal letters. 

 

 

Re: "shaming," you obviously haven't read through all the comments, Nichola! Regardless, there is VERY CLEARLY an issue on this platform with SCAMMERS. There should be a better vetting process in place, as it WASTES OUR TIME as freelancers (and apparently clients) to respond and follow up. I could read the ToS all day long, and I'm still going to be wasting my time responding to scammers if they are not vetted first. 

 

Anyone know how I close up this thread that I started?! The conversation has reached its end. Thank you for all of the thoughtful and well intentioned responses.


Katy K wrote:

Re: "shaming," you obviously haven't read through all the comments, Nichola! Regardless, there is VERY CLEARLY an issue on this platform with SCAMMERS. There should be a better vetting process in place, as it WASTES OUR TIME as freelancers (and apparently clients) to respond and follow up. I could read the ToS all day long, and I'm still going to be wasting my time responding to scammers if they are not vetted first. 

 

Anyone know how I close up this thread that I started?! The conversation has reached its end. Thank you for all of the thoughtful and well intentioned responses.


It's a public forum, you don't get to determine that "the conversation has reached its end" just because you disagree with comments being made. None of which were ill-intentioned, by the way -- just direct. If you think about it, I'm sure you will understand how longtime,  steadily earning UW FLs might be a bit short on patience when people (you're far from the first) who have yet to earn their first dime on the platform arrive with pronouncements about the need for changes which, if implemented, would invariably cost us more of our hard-earned money without actually solving the alleged problem. (I say "alleged" because the real problem is not the scammers--they're endemic to FLing--the real problem is the target-rich environment.)

 

If the UW platform is not a good fit for your business, then don't use it. In the meantime, while imperfect, it works well for thousands--likely tens of thousands--of us who use it to find great clients and earn good money. We're succeeding because we invested heavily in time and energy to figure out how to optimize it within our own business models. Anyone who parachutes in advocating disruption of that has gotta expect pushback. 

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