I have been freelancing full time for a couple months now. I dabbled in it a bit prior to that, but nothing crazy. As of right now I mostly get jobs from Upwork, but have also used Freelancer. Here are some major red flags I ran into with clients in my first few months of work.
- ‘Companies’ with generic email addresses such as an @gmail.com. This is the most obvious red flag that your potential client is a scam. Obviously, this is different if you are working with a small business you know. But, I applied for a writing job on Upwork and it ended up being an “international health insurance” company that had an email that ended in gmail.com. Definitely a scam.
- Make sure the person has verified payment. It does limit some of the jobs, but most of the jobs that don’t have a verified form of payment ended up being scams for me. I now filter and only apply for jobs that have a verified form of payment.
- Stay on the platform. If you stay on the platform, such as Upwork or Freelancer, then you are much more protected. You would be surprised the number of people who want to use your personal email address or take conversations off of the platform. Many platforms offer payment protection, so if a client does not pay, you still get your money. It is a great protection to have.
- Be skeptical of deals where you are offered a job on the spot. I had one person message me, asking me to apply for a full time job, with great salary and benefits. So I did. Then they messaged back two minutes later and said they would hire me…. ????? No interview, no nothing. I promptly moved on from the message.
Sometimes, one of these things is acceptable. Many authors needing editing or proofreading do have generic email addresses. And sometimes people new to the platform just have not gotten around to getting their payment verified. As with most things, there can be a grey line. Just be skeptical, work hard, and don’t stress too much if someone tries to pull a fast one on you.