How to Scam-Proof Your Freelance Job Search

[ad#250 Image]If you are a freelancer I’m almost certain that you are one hardworking person who surely deserves every cent of what you earn. Those sleepless nights and missed important occasions are just proof that you are a dedicated working machine. But there are also scammers who are working as hard as you do to victimize the naive, careless, and uninformed job seekers. I must admit, I have had my own taste of scam which could have been avoided had it been that I have done my part in ensuring the legitimacy of the job offer. It was indeed a costly lesson and a disappointing experience. So for those who have not yet experienced being scammed this is a free lesson to keep your freelancing scam proof.

Too Good to be True?

Who doesn’t want to earn big? I’m sure everyone of us are looking into some big break in our career. But beware, promises that are too good to be true has almost always been a sign of scam. A job that’s too easy with a pay rate that’s too high is 99% scam. Alison Doyle suggests, “Avoid listings that guarantee you wealth, financial success, or that will help you get rich fast. Stay clear of listings that offer you high income for part-time hours. They will do none of the above.”

Paying and Disclosing Financial Information

Some websites would require payment for membership but still offers you an opportunity to apply. Elance, Guru, LimeExchange, GetAfreelancer provide upgrades to their members but they are not obliged to upgrade. If you get on a website that makes you pay first before even getting a job, this should be a source of caution. It is but practical at least that as a job seeker that you pay once you already have an ongoing project than paying even before you start work. Real employers don’t charge to hire you or to get you started. And most of all, they won’t ask for your bank account number or other personal and sensitive financial information.

Clear Agreement

It’s good to be enthusiastic to work. But don’t work if you have not yet secured an agreement which you have both double checked. Beware of Non-Disclosure Agreement wordings. Make sure that you read it, and have understood it clearly. If you think you need to clarify, don’t hesitate to do so. To pretend that you have understood when there is doubt at the back of your mind simply means it’s not clear. Communicate your thoughts. Voice out your objections and suggest a way that is amenable to both parties.

Payment Guarantee

Many freelance sites have built a good reputation over the years first of all because they provide payment guarantees on hourly work. This is probably one of the safest way to keep scammers from your doorstep. Fixed rate jobs are rather risky and is one way many scammers are using to exploit job seekers. Unless you have had previous experience with the employer, I suggest that you keep yourself from fixed rate works and stick with hourly jobs.


“If you’re out of work or just looking for a way to make some extra cash on the side, you should be very careful about the jobs posted on online sites like Craigslist, because there are scammers lurking there as well. ” From Lifehacker

I have strongly emphasized the importance of researching when I delivered a lecture last week, and I will emphasize it here again. Researching will give you a lot of new knowledge that will help you in keeping yourself from being a victim of scams. It’s not just about doing a simple Google but it entails double checking the sources, sifting through the results then doing another search. That’s why it’s re-search. A simple background check on employer profiles in different social media and review sites is also a good precautionary measure.


Word of mouth is a good way of gauging whether a certain person or freelance site is worth dealing with. And there is no better way of getting a reliable feedback than sourcing it from fellow freelancers. I’m sure it may not be as objective but getting a glimpse of what you may expect can cushion you from total disappointment when you take the risk of still pursuing to do business with the subject.

These suggestions may not give you a total immunity from scammers, but it will surely give you a second line of defense.
Do you have other ways of keeping yourself from scam?

[ad#468 Text-CF-Post]
Opt In Image
Get tips, news, and job alerts!

Sign up to receive updates straight to your inbox.
You’ve just scratched the tip of the iceberg! Learn more in depth freelancing tips, how to get a better chance at getting hired, cutting edge tools for productivity all for FREE

  • This post is without doubt one of my favorite posts you’ve done. i don’t go along with you on some points however the majority of the points you added I can understand where you were coming from.

  • vitju

    In 2011, I “hired” Indian American freelancer named Delson Armstrong (Delson90) to write a screenplay, or two scripts actually.
    He recommended paying outside Elance, and I paid him $7500 upfront. He wrote couple of pages, but then I saw that he ran out of motivation. Maybe it had something to do with the money, and there was no contract. He realized that I live in Europe, and he was in New York, so nothing´s going to take the money away from him, whether he does the work or not.

    During first 16 months, he kept on saying that everything is going as planned, he´s been working hard and written this many pages, but he doesn´t want to show it yet. Excuses and explanation “I will show it tomorrow, next week, I have been sick, it´s thanksgiving here…”
    But nothing happened.
    Anyway, I was hoping for a new start even though we both knew that he´s a shameless liar.
    16 months: he wrote a synopsis for a regular agent story, and stuff like that.
    20 months: he returned 600 dollars.
    24 months: he really started writing this regular agent story he had created.
    26 months: he had a 6 week pause and deleted his Elance after receiving 2.5 star feedback from another job.

    I basically paid his rent or holiday trips,and wasted 6900 while he kept me hanging for two years.

© 2015 Certified Freelance
by Florante A. Valdez
Cebu City, Philippines
Phone: (947) 893-5187