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seeing the flaws in upwork

I've been on this platform for only a couple months and seeing the flaws with upwork.  Where do my fees go if not to improve the system for both ends clients and freelancers?
There are far too many scams or false leads on this site.  I'm reading the same frustration from others on this community board for a long time.
Here is what I found. 

Don’t assume that because a job posted on Upwork that it’s been vetted and is safe. Upwork does not vet jobs before they are posted.

Don’t assume Upwork has vetted the clients. Upwork does not vet clients.

Don’t assume the Payment Verified badge means it’s not a scam. It’s trivial for scammers to verify their payment method, and we’re seeing more and more reports of scammers with that badge.

Don’t assume Upwork Plus means the client is vetted and safe. This is a subscription plan just like Freelancer Plus, and Upwork doesn’t vet the people who buy it.

Don’t assume the “Interesting Job” and “Featured Job” badges mean the job is safe.

“Interesting Job” seems to be awarded by an algorithm that doesn’t know whether the job is legitimate or not. I have seen jobs with the “Interesting Job” badge that were clearly scams.- “Featured Job” is a badge clients pay for. There’s no reason scammers can’t do the same.

Don’t assume Upwork will return your money if you’ve been scammed. They will not.
Is this being addressed by upwork?  This is the info that needs to be share in there 101 training.

Community Member

Experienced freelancers know all of this to be true, and take measures to protect themselves. New freelancers assume that upwork is the only scammer-free area of the internet, and using upwork does not require any effort from their side at all. Why? You tell me. 

I see you took a few of the Academy courses. Go ahead and check the profiles of people complaining they don't get jobs, or have been scammed. They didn't take even one single course to educate themselves. Why? You tell me. 

As an experienced Upworker, it's getting much harder to differentiate between scam/non-scam accounts. For the amount of money we pay, there should be at least some oversight. Unless they don't want to vett because it means that we endlessly spend connects that we pay money for on useless non-jobs. Maybe that's the idea all along. Following the money with Upwork seems to be a pretty safe bet.

I find it very easy to differentiate between scams and non-scams. If you applied to a scam job, connects will be returned when it is taken down.

Just about every successful freelancer here agrees that vetting of clients would be bad, and wouldn't even eliminate scamming. Anyone who only wants to work with clients whose payment method is verified can filter their job searches to only include those with verified payment methods.


Vetting of freelancers, on the other hand, would reduce scamming, without any great reduction in the number of quality freelancers on the site. What's drawing the scammers here are the thousands of freelancers who don't know the terms of service and are thus easy targets. Almost every scam requires the unwitting compliance of the victim.

Or wittingly. Most people that are scammed think they are just about to make some really easy money. 

I don't know what can be done to convince them that there is no easy money to be made on upwork. 

Or how to convince them it is in their best interest to at least to the Academy courses. 

My question is upwork doing anything besides charging users and shirking reponsibility to fix the known problem, other than putting some optional info material on the user of their platform.  What does the fee go too?

I can only speak to my own experience - a few months back I received one scammer invite per day, which was annoying. That has completely stopped, I see less scammy job postings, I believe that upwork is doing a lot to try to get this problem under control, which is a balancing act since they can't alienate legit clients with the same measures. 

If you want to see where the fees go, you will find a breakdown in their earnings reports below in investor relations. 

Community Member

Assumptions are often times wrong. Taking time to read through Upwork Terms will over the time reduce all these scams. They are actually here on Upwork, but learn from Upwork and Professionals here will give you headway. You might not get the job immediately but consistencies and overtime perfecting your Profiles and Cover letter will soon land you a payable job.

Community Member

If Upwork would significantly improve the security of it and freelancers being paid by all clients, the number of fraudulent clients and their "jobs" on Upwork would drop significantly.

How? As long as people think that there are clients paying the big bucks for copy/paste, there will be people to be scammed and people happy to take money from them. 



You've been here long enough to know that many of the scams we see freelancers complain about here involve "clients" getting work done and not having to pay for it. More secure payment methods would resolve much of that.


I didn't say all scams could be avoided by Upwork requiring more secure payment methods. But a lot of them take advantage of easily manipulated credit card "payments", right?

Yes, and you're not a spring chicken either 😉

Let me ask you this: how many times did you not get paid? I'm venturing a guess that it never happened to you. While none of us have a crystal ball and know 100% that we are not dealing with a person who will do a charge-back - that certainty simply does not exist - still you and me were successful in avoiding it in our combined multiple years. Why? Wise client selection. 

If we can do it, there is no reason why everybody else should not be able to do it too. 

Martina, you're completely wrong about me not ever getting stiffed by a client during my many years on Upwork.


In fact, I now only use hourly project contracts BECAUSE I've previously been ripped off by dishonest clients on fixed price projects. And I occasionally still lose some portions of payment for work completed when an hourly client doesn't pay for time tracked because Upwork goes through my tracked time with a fine toothed comb and disallows certain segments, about which I receive no details from Upwork. (Nevertheless, overall my experience with Upwork's hourly contract payment protection has been very good.)


If you are clairvoyant enough to know which prospective clients were going to have (or, more likely, create) payment issues, I can only say I wish had the same level of clairvoyance.


More extensive vetting clients by Upwork is not a useful solution. Setting up substantially more secure payment methods is - and it would not require substantial additional Upwork personnel costs.  

So sorry to hear that! 

I did specifically say that I don't have a crystal ball. 

That's the point I was trying to make.  I have spent more time on the platform screening the jobs to avoid what looks sketchy than I have applying.  I'm not a software developer but I would think an easy way to reduce scammers would make the courses mandatory prior to setting up an account.  More people would understand how this all works as well.

If you are referring to freelancer profiles - making the courses mandatory - upwork has chosen to go the opposite route. They took out the readiness test, which was a requirement for rising talent, because it was too difficult for the newbies. It wasn't. 

Lots of people have asked for meaningful entrance tests to improve the quality of the freelancers that are sprung on unsuspecting clients, but that was an idea that was not heard. 

Community Member

On one hand, I do think UpWork provides enough information through the academy to advise newcomers on how to spot a scammer and learn how to use the platform wisely.


On the other, it is clear that UpWork can do a lot more regarding the search results and vetting process without a need to increase fees (there's no need to have manual labor handling every job posting / new client).

It would increase fees if they started vetting clients, since they currently don't vet clients at all. I don't want fees to increase more than they are now, which would be inevitable. 

Community Member

I have been using UpWork for some time. I keep hearing about "scams". I can't tell whether this is genuinely a scam you are reporting i.e. someone trying to take money from you.  Or you are applying to jobs and getting 0 response and engagement from the roles. They are two VERY different things.


But I do agree it is very easy for clients with no intention of progressing to post jobs.

Community Member

nooobs out here thinkin Upwork should vet clients and don't understand the absolute disaster that would be. Look at the canned questions for each section and you'd understand, but noobs gonna noob with posts and badges and things.


Just send me the invites and let me handle it. Let the noobs cry, Upwork. You and me got money to make.

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