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Community Member

"verify location" seems to be an undersell...

I registerd with UpWork late last week, and was honestly a little surprised at being greeted by the prompt on the freelancer dashboard to "verify your location". I don't need to get into why – there are a few reasons – but I clicked the prompt, expecting my web browser to pull down the familiar "[web site] wants to use your location information" bar.


Imagine my further surprise when I'm not presented a geolocation request, but instead, a photographed copy of my government issued ID. Now, to go along with my growing surprise, I have questions.


My first question (why can't location be verified in some other way?) and my second question (what happens with that copy of my personally identifiable information after my "location" is verified?) weren't answered in the "How do I confirm my location?" help desk page – altough I was reassured this was all done in real time, and to "save [clients] time and make Upwork a better place for their freelancer needs". Setting aside the mild jingoist undertone, the article was essentially unhelpful (alas, the "thumbs down" on the page asking that very question didn't seem to register my complaint).


Coming to the community pages to look for more information only raised more questions for me. A few other people seem to have dealt with issues around the location verification process – apparently, part of it involves updating the name displayed to clients to be your full legal name (two more questions, suddenly: Wow, so I should warn my trans friends that they'll be compulsorily deadnamed if they want the ostensibly higher-quality contracts on here? And, really, I have to use the three-syllable "Joshua"?), and some people are having trouble verifying their location at all through this process, being told to contact support, and then... winding up here, because apparently none of the dialog choices in the "get help" modal mean anything, and users are always lead to the community pages at the end of the wizard. Literally even the "close my account" option in the dropdowns brings users to these community pages. I'm sure the gurus love answering those ones. (all of that open space at the bottom of the dialog is tantalizing, though... as if the possibilities of what could appear there are endless).


But then thinking about all of this – and noticing the "tax information" section of the user settings page (curiously far from "billing", even though it pertains directly to billing) – lead me to my two biggest questions of all. First, it reminded me of a friend I knew when I was at my first job, who came to the state from California, and never updated his ID the entire time he lived there, and made me think, does a copy of a photo ID actually prove anything to UpWork, besides that I have lived somewhere, at some point? And second, what information on this, if any, could feasibly be different than what is already required to provide in the W-9, before UpWork even allows access to my earnings?

Community Member

Hello Josh,


All confidential information, such as identification documents and banking details are encrypted and stored securely and used by Upwork only to process payments, verify your identy and/or your location. We do encourage users to set up secure passwords, security questions and excercise General Electronic Security to prevent any unauthorized access to their accounts. Uploaded documents are not saved on your account so you will not be able to go back and check your submissions after you submit a required document to us. If you don't want to verify your location, you may still send your proposals to those job posts without US location requirement. Thank you!


Hi Ryan, thank you for the quick reply.

From the sound of it, UpWork requires a significant amount of information from freelancers that could be used to steal our identities in the event of a data breach. I understand if you can't go into detail, but could you give me some idea of what UpWork does to minimize the potential threat this poses to our livelihoods?

Thanks again.

Hello Josh,


Since the day I joined Upwork, I have never heard of reports saying that their identities were stolen because our system was hacked or something like that. This can only prove that Upwork's security is tight and all your uploaded documents are safely secured & won't be accessed by unauthorized personnel. Thank you.


@Josh B wrote:
Hi Ryan, thank you for the quick reply.

From the sound of it, UpWork requires a significant amount of information from freelancers that could be used to steal our identities in the event of a data breach.

You are right.


And follow your guts. If you feel that Upwork asks for too much information, don't register on Upwork. Register on another platform that asks less information.

"Where darkness shines like dazzling light"   â€”William Ashbless

Josh, you can thank all the weasels who register on Upwork with fake details and fake locations and fake history.


Search the forums for those who bleat "I can't change my country" because they "accidentally" entered "USA" and presumably their US based jobs and degrees were also "accidentally" entered.


Find the threads from clients who thought they had hired a US based native English speaking writer, and got word-salad from some slum on the other side of the world.


Cleaning up the marketplace is a MASSIVE undertaking but I for one am very happy to jump through a few hoops once to hopefully be in better company going forward.



Community Member

I still can't even verify my location because my state ID is different than all other ID's in the US. I also don't have my passport or most of my personal documents on me. I'm at college and my parents have all that in a special fireproof box. But when I contact support all they do is tell me to "follow the steps" but it's not like I missed something. I followed all the guidelines, rules, regulations, took the photo several times, uploaded it sideways even though it's vertical, and still, my ID has been refused and I'm stuck because I've run out of avaliable uploads to prove my location. I don't know what else to do, and these people are now asking me for more information?! Do you want a skype call with me to prove I'm not a robot and that I look like my ID and that I'm not using fake information? This whole thing is frustrating. I just wanted to get a couple side-jobs while at school but this is too much work.


There are several ways to prove identity and location, I mean all of our devices have location services and IP addresses. I don't understand how to fix this issue, or why it is so darn difficult to prove this information.

Community Manager
Community Manager

Hi Caroline,


In order to complete your verification process, you'll need to communicate with our agent directly. Once you're ready, please use the secure link provided in this ticket to initiate the process and our agent will follow up to guide you through the process. Let us know if you need any more assistance.

~ Bojan
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