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psheybani
Community Member

criminal background checks

a client is asking me to do a quick criminal background check in order to proceed with the project.  they are not an official Upwork corp/business account but seem pretty legit.  has anyone been asked before? any advice

19 REPLIES 19
a_lipsey
Community Member


Parisa S wrote:

a client is asking me to do a quick criminal background check in order to proceed with the project.  they are not an official Upwork corp/business account but seem pretty legit.  has anyone been asked before? any advice


I have never been asked to do a background check as a freelancer on Upwork. What is the nature of the job they are offering?  

New to me and I work exclusively for lawyers.

I think what I did not like was they waited until the end to tell me that was a requirement vs upfront so I felt a bit blind-sighted, days back and forth, meetings, and nothing mentioned during that time.   I am used to getting the can you sign an NDA even after the project has started sometimes...but suddenly saying you need to go to this third-party site, enter your social and do this quick check was strange.  Upwork should add some questions as users post jobs that guide them to add requirements like this into their posting so we see it from the beginning.  I also have been asked for references right at the end of the process which is odd. 

I thought hard about this for a few minutes and could not come up with a legitimate reason a client contracting with me on UW would need to check my background. I could, on the other hand, think of many reasons someone pretending to be an UW client would like to get their slimy hands on my social security number. 

 

That's a BIG nope.


Parisa S wrote:

but suddenly saying you need to go to this third-party site, enter your social and do this quick check was strange.  


Smells like a phishing scam to me. 


Parisa S wrote:

.but suddenly saying you need to go to this third-party site, enter your social and do this quick check was strange.  


This is where I'd walk away, if not before.


Parisa S wrote:

...but suddenly saying you need to go to this third-party site, enter your social and do this quick check was strange.  


Oh, my. That's not just a red flag, that's flashing red lights, railroad crossing arms, and clanging alarm bells.

martina_plaschka
Community Member


Parisa S wrote:

a client is asking me to do a quick criminal background check in order to proceed with the project.  they are not an official Upwork corp/business account but seem pretty legit.  has anyone been asked before? any advice


Nope. But the whole idea of a background check is that the person that is checked is unaware. If you are supposed to provide it, well, Papier ist geduldig, as we say in German. (Paper is patient. I know, it makes no sense.)

I would tell them that they are free to order a background check on you from any company they please. 

Martina, in the US you really need the approval of the person being checked.  It's a huge privacy issue, although if you know how you can run the court records for a particular court without permission.

 

OP- the more I think about this, the less I like it.  I've actually applied for US Government jobs that didn't require a background check, particularly a criminal one, until I would be provisionally hired.

 

I would ask the client why they feel they need to check a freelancer's background. It just smells funny to me.


Mary W wrote:

Martina, in the US you really need the approval of the person being checked.  It's a huge privacy issue, although if you know how you can run the court records for a particular court without permission.

 

OP- the more I think about this, the less I like it.  I've actually applied for US Government jobs that didn't require a background check, particularly a criminal one, until I would be provisionally hired.

 

I would ask the client why they feel they need to check a freelancer's background. It just smells funny to me.


Oh wow, I did not know that, thank you. All the companies in the US that offer background checks probably talk about something different then, I assume.  

 

kochubei_valeria
Community Member

Hi Parisa,

 

While it's definitely up to you whether you decide to proceed, requesting a criminal background check would not be a violation of Upwork TOS and can be part of the interview process. You may also refer to the section 2.1 of the User Agreement where it states that "Without limitation, Users are solely responsible for: (a) ensuring the accuracy and legality of any User Content; (b) determining the suitability of other Users for a Service Contract (such as any interviews, vetting, background checks, or similar actions); (c) negotiating, agreeing to, and executing any terms or conditions of Service Contracts; (d) performing Freelancer Services; and/or (e) paying for Freelancer Services."

~ Valeria
Upwork

There are very legitimate businesses that do background checks. I had a background check for a huge ($100k+) contract with an Enterprise client, and it was through one of those legitimate companies.

 

I wouldn't do it for a small contract and and I wouldn't do it through some random website.

Exactly. Yes, I have done it through enterprise too but that whole process way more professional,   I just think that newer clients who are not enterprise or Upwork plus clients need better guidance from Upwork when they post jobs, on how to approach this so they do not come across as scammy or waste our time.  A simple pop-up asking them do they req a background check or other things.   


Parisa S wrote:

  A simple pop-up asking them do they req a background check or other things.   


Considering that barely any clients ever need a background check, showing them a pop-up that asks them if they do just gives clients ideas...

Can you imagine the repercussions when every client sees a poput and goes 'ooooo lookeeee here! let's do a check....'

I was once told I'd need a background check and that it would involve taking a drugs test and my neighbours being interviewed.  For writing website copy.  I put it down to delusions of grandeur.

kinector
Community Member

Parisa, this doesn't sound right. Report these guys! ๐Ÿ˜ฌ

As suggested before, this is probably a new variation of the classic phishing scam that comes back at us freelancers from time to time.

Before freelancing I worked for a big automation company in Sweden, a country with some of the tightest privacy laws in the world (even the privacy of criminals is often protected... please don't ask me to make sense of it). Even there, and coming in as a foreigner, no criminal record check was ever even mentioned. And that was a full-time position in the applied science part of a Fortune 300 company where all the new stuff is invented and that gets dozens of cyber attacks every day plus frequent industrial espionage cases that never see daylight in the news.

So, asking for a criminal record on a freelance site is completely absurd regardless of the stage of the interview process.

It's a scam. ๐Ÿ™„
kinector
Community Member

In addition, Upwork Enterprise Clients who've hired me didn't ask for a criminal background check either. It doesn't happen.
petra_r
Community Member


Mikko wrote:
In addition, Upwork Enterprise Clients who've hired me didn't ask for a criminal background check either. 

So, just because it didn't happen to you with one Enterprise client means it doesn't happen to anyone with any Enterprise client?

 


Mikko R wrote:
 It doesn't happen.

It does happen! Of course it happens.

 

Or are you saying that I'm lying? I can assure that this is not the case and all my colleagues had the same background checks. 

 

So, asking for a criminal record on a freelance site is completely absurd 

Again, just because you haven't seen it happen does not make it "completely absurd"

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