As with every type of online business, there is a risk that you might be tricked into an illegitimate business or lose money. Freelancer.com is doing everything to protect your identity and payments, and provides a range of tools to help you do business on the site safely. But if you want to ensure you are also doing everything you can to spot scams on the site, you will have to follow the guidelines below.
Ensure you are aware of the deadlines you take on, and can meet them. Do not just bid the shortest completion time just because you want the project badly. You can have difficulties later. You will need to know what the task is exactly, and how much time you have to complete it. Misunderstandings are the source of many disputes on Freelancer, and they can easily be avoided. If you do not fix deadlines before accepting the project, you might be given unrealistic ones you cannot meet.
- If you are dealing with a client you have never worked before, feel free to ask for an escrow payment schedule. Freelancer introduced this feature of the site to protect you, as an employee. If you will have a problem with the project, Freelancer has the tools to force the release of the escrow payment. But if you never asked for it, there is a chance you will not get paid.
- You should never complete any trial work, unless you are paid for it. You should also not send over an overview of how you would be completing the job, or step by step instructions. Using your outline the employer can complete the work themselves or give it out to a cheaper freelancer.
- Only deal with employers through the website before you are selected. Although you will have to pay a small fee for accepting and completing work (usually $5 or 10%, whichever is greater), you will get the protection by the site in case anything goes wrong. Many people will be contacting you via email, messenger or phone after you have accepted the project. This can be improving the communication between the employer and freelancer.
- Look through the project description and search for trigger words that may indicate that the project is not real or a scam. There are some jobs like form filling that should warn you. If an employer is looking for people to fill out forms, they are more than likely to work for a CPA company, and get paid by leads. Offering incentives to sign up is prohibited on these sites, and once the CPA affiliate program owner finds out about this activity, the employer gets banned from the network, so you will not get paid either, as they will get no money. It is also an unethical way of doing business, and you should not participate in it in any way.
- If you work as a content or article writer, you do not want to get involved in spamming search engines. You should be looking for quality projects, and not keyword stuffing. It is your reputation on stake, so ensure you need to provide content instead of just text with loads of keywords stuffed in it.
- Be aware of “transfer money” jobs as well. These are never real, and hardly ever pay. There are some projects that state that the owner’s Paypal account got closed down and they are looking for someone to process payments. Never fall for these, they are similar to the traditional Nigerian 419 scams. You will fail to make money as a freelancer if you fall for these scam.
- Only accept payment through the freelancer.com payment system. Steer clear if the project states “payment through Paypal only”. There is no guarantee to get paid, and you will never know what are the intentions of the project owner.
- Another common type of scam, starting up freelancers fall for, is when the employer is asking for a deposit or upfront payment to win the project. As stated before, you should never pay anyone upfront to give you work, and you should report the project immediately to the site.
- If you want to appear professional and protect yourself, you should ask the employer to sign a contract and place escrow or milestone payments as well. You will have the proof in your hands if anything goes wrong, and Freelancer is looking for proof when you are submitting a dispute.