Freelance scams are an unfortunate part of life as a freelancer.
The start of every freelancing career is an exciting time. There are lots of tasks to do, like designing a portfolio, setting up your banking, and applying for jobs. Unfortunately, it’s getting harder and harder to tell which content writing jobs are legitimate and which are freelance scams.
These scams seek to take advantage of writers and other freelancers for various purposes. Some scams are designed to provide the scammer with free work, which they’ll obtain from trusting writers after asking for a trial period or promising a payment that never comes.
Other typical freelancer job scams are simply a front to steal your identity.
The best way to avoid these freelance scams is to educate yourself on how they work and the common tricks that scammers use to catch you off guard. Then, you’ll be more confident accepting better job offers when they come along.
What are the warning signs of freelance scams?
Regardless of the scammer’s method to try and dupe you, most scams have a few common warning signs. If you connect with a new client that’s showing any of these warning signs, be wary.
1. They contact you out of the blue
Most reputable clients want their freelance writers to be able to demonstrate their skills, so they’ll do their due diligence before reaching out. This usually involves them looking at your website or your ClearVoice portfolio.
If a potential client contacts you out of the blue and wants to move forward without seeing your work, it’s a sign that they’re more interested in your vulnerability than your skills.
2. They rush the process
In freelance scams, the scammer is counting on being able to get what they need from you (money, information, or work) before you realize what’s going on.
If you ever feel like an initial conversation or job interview with a client is rushed and confusing, it could be a warning sign.
3. The pay is too good to be true
This is a tricky warning sign since compensation across content writing and other related jobs vary widely. However, if the pay you’re being offered for a project or a role feels too good to be true, it likely is.
4. You can’t find any details about their company online
Even if you’re working with a start-up or smaller business, you should be able to find some information about the company or its staff online.
If all your searches turn up empty, or if the details you see don’t match what they’ve given you (such as different emails or names of staff), the individual you’re talking to may be a fraud.
5. Poorly written correspondence
If an individual hasn’t taken the time to proofread an email or job posting, it may be a sign that they’re throwing out tons of lines and looking for anyone desperate enough to bite. No professional company would want their official correspondence to be poorly written.
4 common freelance scams writers need to know
How do you tell if someone is scamming you online? It gets a lot easier when you know what types of scams to watch out for. Here are some of the most common freelancer writing scams you may see today.
The fake job post
These freelance scams have become common on sites like Craigslist but can also be found on dedicated freelance marketplaces. With these fake job posts, typically, the scammer is looking for you to give them your contact details as quickly as possible so they can sell them.
You can protect yourself by speaking to someone over video before moving any further and researching the company to find out if they are a legitimate business.
The free sample request
This scam targets newer writers who are eager to prove their value. However, writers of any experience level can fall victim to this scheme.
In this scam, freelancers will apply for a job only to be told they need free work so the company can evaluate their skills first-hand. The company usually wants to get as much free work as possible and never intends to pay any of its freelancers.
To avoid this, build a portfolio on ClearVoice so you can showcase your writing samples and past work. Then, offer that to potential clients so they can see your skills for themselves.
Impersonating a legitimate business
Often, scammers try to cloak themselves in authenticity by either stealing the emails of legitimate businesses or creating ones that look almost identical (i.e., email@example.com instead of firstname.lastname@example.org).
Carefully examine the email addresses and signatures of whoever you’re corresponding with until you’re sure they’re real.
The bogus over-payment scam
An unfortunate scam that has victimized many freelancers, including writers, involves getting a large amount of money up-front. For writers, this amount is often presented as a down payment on a project.
Once they get the check, they deposit it, then the scammer asks or demands that some of the money get paid back. The freelancer will return the money, thinking the original payment has cleared.
Then, they find out that the initial money is gone – either because the check was a forgery, or the scammer will request a refund via PayPal or another payment site.
Protect yourself from freelance scams
There are lots of things that you can do to set yourself up for success and avoid freelance scams, including developing a customized portfolio that you can use to highlight your work.
By making your portfolio publicly available on a site like ClearVoice, you can make it easier to weed out would-be scammers who haven’t even taken the time to get to know your work. Get started on your customized CV portfolio today.