The gig economy is increasing exponentially. It is further accelerated with remote workforce culture becoming the new normal due to the pandemic. Standing at $347.8 billion in 2021, the industry is poised to reach $455.2 billion by 2023.
Due to attractive benefits like being your own boss, flexible work hours, global exposure, etc., people worldwide are eager to join the freelance world. But this is where fraudsters are finding an opportunity to scam vulnerable people. If you offer freelance services online, here are some job security tips that can help prevent scams.
Get Everything in Writing
It is very common to find scammers who create fake company accounts. They will promise you huge sums and then leave you hanging once the project is complete. Hence, it is always advised to have a contract. After all, what’s documented can be shown as proof if anything goes wrong.
You might think that why go through the hassle of creating a contract? Why not simply take some advance payment instead. Well, taking advance payment can offer security up to a certain extent, but there’s a downside to this: the overpay scam.
Suppose a scammer pays you in advance and then overpays you during the final payment. Now, the person can ask back the overpayment made. Next, he or she can reach out to PayPal and register an issue of a possible hack or compromise and ask for a refund. Thus, the payment made to you will be reversed, and you will be left with nothing. Overpay scam is one of the most common PayPal scams you will come across. Hence, it is better to have a contract in place.
Don’t Provide Too Many Trial Pieces
Companies do ask for trials to evaluate your skills. This is understood. But some scammers will try to use the excuse of trial assignments to make you work for them for free. For instance, a single 500-word article should suffice the purpose if you are a content writer.
Fraudsters will try to trick you by saying that they will offer many varied assignments; hence, they require multiple trials to match skills with each type of assignment. Don’t fall for this trick. You should even try to get paid for the trial assignment as you are putting in efforts to complete it. But if that’s not possible, provide a small free trial that can be completed quickly.
Never Hand Out Sensitive Data
Some platforms and job providers will ask you for sensitive information to get a job. This can include your financial information, Social Security number, card details, etc. Many freelancers who have not landed any project for a long time give away all the information asked for. But you should not do that.
If you encounter such a scenario, please report the person or platform asking for sensitive data. They might convince you that the information is required for payment transactions or some legal work. But don’t listen to them because if they ask you for too much sensitive data, the chances are that they will use it.
Don’t Pay to Get Paid
Asking for upfront payment to grab a project is a common scam. You don’t have to pay to get paid in the freelance world. If someone asks you for upfront payment, decline the project straight up.
Some job portals or freelance sites might ask you for a membership payment. This may be required to maintain the job portal. Hence, subscription-like membership payments on such portals can be valid. However, researching about these job portals is advised.
Ask for Clear Expectations
While some scammers will ask you for multiple trial assignments, some will ask you to alter a single piece numerous times. They will never give you clear expectations to leave room for dissatisfaction.
Once you deliver the first piece, they will ask you for rework repeatedly without any additional payment. After some reworks, they will give you an entirely new set of expectations stating that the previous one didn’t work at all. Thus, they will trick you into completing multiple tasks while paying you for one.
You will find many scammers online. But they shouldn’t stop you from freelancing. More and more companies, especially small-medium businesses (SMBs), are working with freelancers. Around 70% of SMBs have already hired freelancers and will continue to do so. Hence, it is a great opportunity you should not miss because of some scammers.
It’s all about differentiating a legit opportunity from a scam. Simple practices like getting everything written down in a contract, taking part-payments in advance, setting up clear expectations, etc., will help you avoid scammers and cons. So, next time you take up any freelance project, you know what to do.