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lenaellis
Staff
Staff

Tips to Avoid Questionable Jobs

On occasion, you’ll see someone coming to the Community to ask, “Is this legit?” as they reference a questionable job post or request from another user.

 

With over 17 million users on Upwork, we recognize the need to remain vigilant about suspicious activity. And though we’ll continue doing our best to prevent or address that activity asap, we also count on you to continue being diligent in protecting your information and access. Educating yourself and trusting your instincts are key to safety.

 

To that end, here are some tips and best practices that can help you identify and avoid potential scams:

 

  • Circumvention: This occurs when a client or freelancer asks or agrees to pay or be paid outside of Upwork. It is not only against the Terms of Service, but it’s also an easy way  to fall victim to a scam since you will not be protected by Upwork’s programs, like Hourly Payment Protection. Read more about  circumvention and staying safe online.

Payment methods: There are a number of approved choices for making payments and withdrawing funds on Upwork that clients and freelancers can select from when making or receiving payments. Only approved payment options should be used or received for payment. Additionally, talent should not send payment in any currency to clients off the platform for any reason, even in exchange for payment on the platform. Be cautious of requests to buy, sell, or transfer currencies of any kind (regular or crypto). Being asked to buy, sell, trade, or transfer any form of currency, even for a fee on Upwork, is prohibited and should be reported. For example, purchasing or transferring Bitcoin or other forms of cryptocurrency on behalf of a client is a violation of Upwork’s Terms of Service and a common scam.

  • Phishing: This is when a client is trying to steal your password and information by directing you to a fake login page. Always double check that links or HTML files clients send you are for valid websites. Make sure the URL is correct, and never give out your personal information.

 

  • Free Work: This happens when you’re asked to submit work before a milestone has been funded, or you’re requested to do the job as a “sample.” If a client requests a sample project it should be paid. Avoid this by never starting work before the official contract start date and the first milestone is funded.  This is different from asking for samples of your past work or other questions intended to vet your skills before engaging you.

 

  • Payment for materials or to “submit an application”: Never pay anything for a client to consider your proposal/application or to work for a client, even if they claim that the money will be reimbursed. Although Freelancers should generally pay their own expenses and have the tools they need to do the work, be very cautious if a client ever asks you to pay for something up front or to pay them directly for anything needed for the project.    

 

  • Check-cashing fraud: This happens when someone asks you to process PayPal payments, or request favors to cash or deposit checks and money orders in order to send the money somewhere else. These checks or money orders are likely fraudulent and your bank can hold you liable for the funds, even if you have already sent the money on to the “client”.

 

  • Shipping scam: We’ve seen scams in which a client has requested to have goods shipped to you, which you would then repackage and mail elsewhere. These items can be stolen or purchased with a stolen card and unwitting freelancers can be acting as the middleman.

 

  • Click bait: Be skeptical if you’re asked to click on external links or sign-up for websites, as you may be falling for a click-bait scam, where a website makes money off of the click-thru traffic. Google the website before clicking to see if there are relevant reviews or red flags.

  • Personal info: Clients do not need access to your personal information, driver's license, passport, social security number, tax forms, etc. Do not share this information.

  • Other flags: Jobs which advertise benefits, medical insurance and training programs are often red flags of a scam client.  Be extra cautious with those types of posts.

We take security seriously at Upwork. You can find more information about Trust and Safety on Upwork in this Help article. If you think you’re the victim of a possible scam, immediately contact Customer Support – or use one of the “Flag as inappropriate” links throughout the site and in Messages.

 

In the end, trust your instincts and feel free to continue asking here in our Community. We’re here to help and we’ll continue doing whatever we can to make sure the good users of Upwork stay safe.

 

See more of our Stay Safe series: 

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135 REPLIES 135

what about companies that list they are looking to hire 88 freelancers. is this a scam?


@Joan P wrote:

what about companies that list they are looking to hire 88 freelancers. is this a scam?


 You could be open minded or you could avoid the risk that it's in the .0000000000000001% chance of being legit 

clark_tammara
Member

Hi lena, I have been recently asked to submitt a sample of my work to a client before i actually started to work. the clients email address is **Edited for Community Guidelines** From reading your post this is a free work scam! I hope that Up Work will handle this matter. I plan from now on to be carfeul of the offers that i receive.

 

Thanks!!

Hi Tammara,

 

It looks like that client has already been removed from Upwork. If a client requests free work or offers to pay outside of Upwork in the future, please flag their job posting as inappropriate or submit a ticket request to report them.

 

Thank you.

~ Valeria
Upwork

Thanks Valeria!

Hi,

 

Last question, how do you submit a ticket request because I tried to and for some reason didn't see the option to submit a ticket request for my issue so that's why I had to use the forum.

 

Thank you for providing the ticket request "How To'

 

Tiffani

Tiffani,

 

You can submit a ticket request here.

~ Valeria
Upwork

Can you explain specifically where to look/find the way to flag/report the agency in question when this happens?  where can I find it on the page when I'm receiving a message or offer from them?

Hi Margaret, 

I understand where your frustration is coming from, and appreciate your participation in this thread. I would like to note that we do have teams and systems that help identify red flags if a user or a job post is fraudulent. However, I would like to clarify that there are cases where we are unable to foresee a violation based on a client's job post itself or their initial communications with the freelancer. We usually receive flags when the interview stage has already commenced, where the client explicitly communicates this (ToS violation) with a freelancer. In cases like these, the teams involved take action immediately against the client's job post and account based on the report.

 

I highly recommend that you read up on the "Safety First!" section of the freelancer resources we have compiled, and these tips for avoiding questionable jobs for more information about working safely through Upwork. When you come across any client or job that raises a red flag, you can go to the job post and click on the "Flag as inappropriate" button so that it goes to the team's queue for their further review. 


~ Avery
Upwork

Thank you.
gayonb
Member

Lena this was very informative. I thank you very much for this post. 

Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently." Henry Ford
anka_hanan
Member

Hello !

I am new to upwork and I am so dsparate to find a job , if I got an invitation to an interview how do I kow if its a scam or not ? 

And if I sen you te email can you know ?

 

Thank you 


@hanan a wrote:

Hello !

I am new to upwork and I am so dsparate to find a job , if I got an invitation to an interview how do I kow if its a scam or not ? 

And if I sen you te email can you know ?

 

Thank you 


 Careful with desperation. That's what they play on. Be smart even if you're desperate. Selling random stuff on ebay is better when you're desperate.

Hi Hanan,

 

The most recent invite you received does look like the common Google Hangout scam Lena described in her post. The team will review the job and take actions as needed.

~ Valeria
Upwork

Valeria, you may want to pin this post at the top of this forum so it's easy to see by everyone.

-----------
"Where darkness shines like dazzling light"   —William Ashbless

Rene, the link to this thread is included in the list of resources for new users pinned at the top of the New to Upwork forum currently.

~ Valeria
Upwork
ponchissimo
Member

  • Check-cashing fraud: This happens when someone asks you to process PayPal payments, or request favors to cash or deposit checks and money orders in order to send the money somewhere else. These checks or money orders are likely fraudulent and your bank can hold you liable for the funds, even if you have already sent the money on to the “client”.

 

Today I found an announcemnt of a person looking for someone to pay for fb boosts on their posts. This person/company decide to invest, let's say, 100$ to boost a post, so they give you 100$ for the boost +10% as the payment and are willing to do that because facebook doesn't recognize their country's credit cards. Since boosting fb posts is definitely not a fraud, do you believe this request is legit?

Hi Simone,

 

While the job sounds suspicious, please flag the job post so our team could review it and check if its in line with Upwork ToS. Note that based on the job post details you mentioned, this job is not related to the scam you noted at the beginning of your post.

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shwetasoni13
Member

 

**Edited for Community Guidelines**

 

This one is trying to scam me...its fake, and asking for $650 - 

she is **Edited for Community Guidelines**, please block this client immediately. thanks 

Shweta,

 

You should flag the job as inappropriate. Do not have anything more to do with this client and also report the job to customer support with the appropriate url and proof that the client has demanded money, which is against Upwork's ToS: https://support.upwork.com/hc/en-us/requests/new

I have already marked inappropriate to client, though other complaint chennals, I could not find..please give me a link

 
 
**Edited for Community Guidelines**
 
Your G1 Time Tracker will cost you $650.
 
I believe you can handle the cost of your G1 Automated Time Tracker ?
 
 

Hi Shweta,

 

Thanks for flagging this job. I'll also follow up with the team and they will review and take actions as soon as possible.

~ Valeria
Upwork

Hi Valeria, 

 

How do you flag a job where they are asking you to add to Google Hangouts ASAP? I understand that while people like to use other tools to do interviews once contact is established, there doesn't seem to be a good reason to add a person to hangouts for having an instant message conversation. While they are not giving their contact info in the job description itself, I have been flagging for providing contact information because the posters have been in the invite in what looks like an attempt to "hurry" folks off of Upwork. 

 

This really concerns me because I've had about 10 invites in the last week that were like this. Do you think the developers may want to add to the Flag Job options one that indicates "innappropriate invite contact", or even the ability to flag the invite itself? 

 

Those are just my thoughts. Let me know what you think and if you think I am handling this properly. I don't want you to think I'm just randomly flagging without cause. 🙂

 

Many thanks, 

 

Marisa 

edithlt
Member

Thanks, Lena for the tips.  

See I'm not the only one.  I will heed your 

guidance in the future.

re_moraes
Member

Hi Lena,

 

Reading the reports of colleagues on this subject is not very inviting for those who just signed up for the site like me, but I could not have read at a better time. In fact, my concern is not to notice these scams in the first moments because I am not a native speaker, and have some difficulty with the language. This already brings me a certain insecurity, but I believe that everything will go well if I continue to inform myself with great articles like yours and the reported cases. I'll stay connected!

 

I really need to make UPWORK work for me, since the economic and political situation here in Brazil is collapsing, and my work here is not giving much at this time. So any help or advice will always be very welcome!
 
Thank you very much for the article, and I wish you all the best!

 

Re

avamcclendon
Member

I went off site to Google Hangout because I got an email from **Edited for Community Guidelines** from Upworks telling me to.  I think this network is more sophisticated than most people realize.

 

Hi Ava,

 

Please, see my reply to your post on this thread. While it's not against the ToS to communicate with clients outside of Upwork, you may be wary of clients who try to move the conversation to Google Hangouts right away. Also, all the payments need to go through Upwork, so if a client offers to pay off of the platform for any reasons, please flag them.

 

Thank you.

~ Valeria
Upwork
voromailala15
Member

Thanks for the instructions. One question : shouldn't we give our e mail address when writing à cover letter ? How the clients contact us ?

Hi Noro,

 

Clients have the option to respond to your proposal, in which case you'd receive a notification and a new message room will be created to accommodate your conversation. While you're free to share your direct contact details in a proposal, we strongly advise freelancer to communicate with prospective clients through Messages for at least the initial stages of the interview process.

 

Please review the freelancer resources we compiled here in order to use the platform and work successfully on Upwork.

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dominilaska
Member

Thank you for this message because I just signed up and immediately got attacked.

 

Scary!

We're sorry that you had a bad experience, Dennell. If you haven't already, please report your client by flagging his job post as inapproriate so that actions can be taken against his account.


~ Avery
Upwork

I just received an "invitation to interview" with a client that also wanted me to connect with them on Google Hangouts. The problem is, I didn't submit a proposal with them. It looks as though the job posting has already been flagged, but as I'm just starting out, how can I be sure?

You can check the job with customer services, but as you are new, you can be 99.9% certain that it will be a scam if they ask you to Google hangouts. You can answer the invitation too. You are not committing yourself to anything, but if they ask you to buy software, or cash a cheque, you can simply block them and report them. 

 

Some bona fide clients do use it, but generally after a good working relationship has been  established beteen client and freelancer.

Don't waste time with Google Hangouts invites.

 

If you see that, just block the "client".

mugash4
Member

Hi Lena, thanks alot for this rich info. i think i was duped to do a sample work as part of interview by this client **Edited for Community Guidelines**. i wish i had read this article. especially point three. anyway thank you for opening my eye. i now feel more wiser.

cahillchloe
Member

I need help, I'm not sure if I'm being scammed! 

 

Here is my situation:

 

I recently got contacted by someone at upwork for a graphic design job. They wanted to "interview" me over google hangout chat, which I thought was odd. The job that they want me to do sounds too good to be true, is not the graphic design job I originally thought, and they aren't going through upwork. I'm a little bit concerned that this is a scam. I don't know how, and it seems legit, but some red flags are popping up in my mind. Can someone please help me/contact me about this?

I recently got contacted by someone at upwork for a graphic design job. They wanted to "interview" me over google hangout chat, which I thought was odd, but it was my first contact through upwork so I said ok. The job that they want me to do sounds too good to be true, is not the graphic design job I originally thought, and they aren't going through upwork. I'm a little bit concerned that this is a scam. I don't know how, and it seems legit, but some red flags are popping up in my mind. Can someone please help me/contact me about this?

The interview over Google Hangout isn't in and of itself odd - I myself have had successful jobs that required an interview over Google Hangout. Now if it sounds too good to be true, there is a decent chance that it is. Also, if it's not the job you originally thought, that's a red flag. Lastly, the fact that they do not want to go through upwork is almost certainly a sign of a scam - if they don't want to use upwork, then why are they looking for freelancers on it? I would tell them that you will not work outside of upwork, and ask them why they do not want to use the platform. 

It wasn't over google hangouts video call, it was over the chat option. So basically it was like texting back and forth, which is why I thought it was odd. They also want to send me a check to deposit into my account to buy software they want me to use... I don't know it just seems iffy! Someone help!

It is iffy, report it and move on. Or just move on. 

"Welcome, humans. I'm ready for you!"
- Box, Logan's Run (1976)