Employment Scams Can Strike at Work
For most people, the ability to work from home might sound like the best of both worlds. Earning your full income while setting your own hours, being home with your kids, avoiding the daily commute, and working in your bathrobe is ideal, but the reality of that kind of arrangement isn't quite the fairy tale it's made out to be.
First, yes, a significant number of people set their own hours and work from pretty much anywhere. But beware, jobs that promise you a steady, viable income for doing nothing are the empty promises of scammers.
Freelancers have some support against scammers through a handful of well-run companies that serve both the interests of clients who need project-based work done and qualified individuals who provide that work. The companies serve almost as brokers, handling payments and tax forms, keeping a rating system for both clients and freelancers, and more.
Unfortunately, scammers have now been found advertising jobs in these freelancing companies, using exactly the same tactics they try in typical phishing emails. Some of the scams have been copied and pasted word-for-word into job postings on these sites. If a freelancer accepts a contract for work, it can be hard to figure out when the job stopped being legitimate and fell into the land of scams.
Most genuine companies will have fairly strict guidelines for accepting a contract and receiving payment. The rules protect everyone involved in the working relationship, so violating those rules can mean the loss of income and account suspension. Trying to get you to break these rules can be a telltale sign that a job offer might not be legitimate:
1. If the client insists on communicating outside of the working platform
If the company provides a messaging platform for communicating about the job and submitting completed work, there really should be little reason to exchange email addresses, cell phone numbers, or other accounts, especially at the very beginning of the relationship. Learn to report suspicious activity on the site.
2. Offers of payment on another platform
In exchange for protecting both the client and the freelancer, the company will take a small percentage of the fee. Asking to pay on a platform other than through the company can not only void your account with that company, it can leave you vulnerable to submitting work to a client and then not getting paid.
3. Requests for personal information
The whole purpose in using a service that connects them to a freelancer is so the client doesn't need to fill out mounds of employment paperwork and worry about tax forms. That type of thing is handled by the freelancing company. If a client gives you a detailed form to fill out, there's a good chance it's a fraud or identity theft attempt. Never turn over your sensitive personal information to a client who hires you through a freelance company. The company has your employment data and therefore the client has no business with it.
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