Red Flags to avoid Scams as a Freelancer

The job market in India has become incredibly competitive since the epidemic, and businesses are continuously looking for new, creative methods to recruit top talent both online and offline. This has given newcomers and job seekers new opportunities and opened new doors to employment. Still, it has also given scam scammers a way to target young people who are unemployed or underemployed. 

The Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy reports that the unemployment rate in India rose sharply in April 2019 to 7.6%, the highest level since October 2016. This, along with the ease of Internet access, has benefited employment scammers who prey on young people in need by promising them fake jobs. But, to avoid falling prey to these scams in our hands, this article will tell you how.

Warning signs of a Freelance Scam

The secret to avoiding scams as a new freelancer is spotting warning signs. As a new freelancer, it is simple to become thrilled when assignments are provided. Checking empty profiles, negative ratings, and other suspicious stuff is easy to overlook. However, a few things should not be overlooked at any cost, and if you come across any of the following ten red flags, be wary.

They unexpectedly get in touch with you

The majority of trustworthy clients will conduct their due research before contacting freelancers since they want them to be capable of demonstrating their abilities. They typically do this by visiting your website or portfolio. If a potential customer reaches you out of the blue and wants to proceed without reading your work, this indicates that they are more interested in your vulnerability than your skills.

No interviews or video conferences

A sudden call for an interview? It might be suspicious. Although it may appear insignificant, it is a significant factor in determining whether your employment offer is genuine. Most businesses will call you for a face-to-face interview or chat. An employer's reluctance to reveal their face might be a significant warning indicator. Prefer in-person interviews or video conferences until you are interviewing for a position with a recommendation.

A business is seeking collaboration outside of a freelance platform

It is a significant red flag if the company requests communication on a messaging platform other than the one where they are offering the job. The most popular third-party platforms are Facebook Messenger and Skype. When the scam is over, the account vanishes, leaving the freelancer hanging. So, no matter what, always communicate within the platform.

No information about their business online

You should be able to obtain some information about the firm or its employees online, even if you are working with a start-up or smaller corporation. If all of your searches come up empty or the details you see do not match what they have given you (such as alternative emails or staff names), the person you are speaking with could be fake.

The company demands a payment or a registration fee

This is the most common warning sign of a fraudulent offer. A genuine organisation would never demand an upfront payment or any other form of payment for the work role. Some scammers might refer to it as a recruiting fee, while others might refer to it as an investment in your office supplies. Whatever the reason, if you are asked to pay, that is a warning sign; walk away.

The suggestion for a joint Upwork account

A client or fellow freelancer approaches you and claims they can help you earn thousands of dollars utilising your current Upwork or Freelancer account. This is one of the most popular freelancer scams.

Once you give them access to or share it with them, they will use their IT wizardry to expand their freelance business and increase their income. If you accept this proposition, your new "partner" will have control over your bank and ID information but will not perform any growth hacking. Instead, they will use you as an accomplice in even more complex schemes.

Free tests projects

Many freelancers, especially writers, fall victim to this scam at least once before they figure it out. This is how it works:

  1. You make a suggestion.
  2. The client requests a test project from you because they like your idea. If all goes well, they promise you more work.
  3. However, after completing the test project, they ghost you. They are no longer responding to emails and calls or are interested in paying you.

The pay is too good to be true

This is a problematic red flag because pay for content writing and other comparable jobs varies greatly. On the other hand, if the compensation you are being offered for a task or a position seems too nice to be true, it probably is a scam. Most companies would try to get the best out of your work for low costs, so if a company offers a massive deal for a simple task, they just want to lure you into work and scam.

A Google search for the company name yields numerous scam reports

The employment offer is likely, not genuine if you cannot find out anything about a company or if a Google search for the company name turns up fraud allegations. Also, it is a huge red flag if the job vacancy is only advertised on a particular website or third-party site and the organization needs a website. 

They want urgent work

In a freelancing employer scam, the fraudster hopes to gain what they need from you (money, information, or work) before you know what is happening. It could be a red flag if you sense that a client's initial conversation or job interview needs to be more timely and transparent. They would not talk about their clients or company but would push you to rush the work.

How to avoid getting scammed as a freelancer?

Refuse "Test" projects

Only experienced writers know that submitting "test" or "demo" material should not be encouraged or suggested. The approach is simple; you will be requested to submit your proposal and a sample of your work.

Clients will probably say that if they approve this "demo," they will hire you for more work. Finally, you will not receive any confirmation regarding the same. So, you must confirm the client's validity before submitting your test work. Publish the work only if the client seems trustworthy.

Work with accredited platforms

The best way to avoid being a scam victim is to use only recognized freelancing platforms. You should not click on suspicious-looking web advertising or links. It is more likely to be a scam if the ads fail to describe the job offer or overstate the pay. To verify the provider's legitimacy, search for them on the internet.

Bind your clients through a contract

If the correspondence by the company is not satisfactory or they are not providing a legit offer later, the client is suspicious. So, always ask for a written agreement or documents before working with the company.

Ask for milestone payments

To ensure that a client is not a fraudster or scammer, you can ask for a partial payment of your work before submitting it whenever you and your client accept a proposal. On projects with fixed costs, request milestone payments from your client. The funding of milestone payments on the escrow provides payment security. On the other hand, if it is an hourly project, look up the client's past performance, wait for approval, and turn on your timer. Time tracking software, which keeps track of working hours, is required for hourly projects. You can download time-tracking applications from websites and get to work.

Never share or seek contact numbers

Never share your contact number, email address or social media usernames with a client while interacting on freelancing platforms. Also, never agree to work with a client outside of a freelancing platform. You will not only be blocked; the ban will last the rest of your life.

Final words

According to Better Business Bureau (BBB) research, job scams are among the riskiest scams that users experience. In reality, around 56% of job seekers in India encounter fraud during the job search process, most of which are freelancing job offers.

Our objective in sharing these red flags of phoney offers is to assist young and new freelancers in identifying dangers and making educated decisions. While the aforementioned red signs can help you identify phoney job offers, your intuition can also help. The general idea is to be informed about potential hazards and support them with research and intuition.

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