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BBB Scam Alert: Hiring freelance help? Watch out for imposters

Photo courtesy of BBB of Acadiana

Small businesses looking to hire a freelancer online, beware. Scammers are creating fake accounts on platforms like Upwork.

Posted: Sep 8, 2021 12:34 PM

LAFAYETTE, La. - Small businesses looking to hire a freelancer online, beware. Scammers are creating fake accounts on platforms like Upwork. They use photos and resumes of real professionals and entice businesses with low rates.

How the Scam Works

You are looking to hire a freelancer, such as software developer or graphic designer, to help with a project for your business. You decide to post the gig on a website, such as Upwork or Freelancer.com, where you can connect directly with independent contractors.

On that site, you find a freelancer who looks perfect for the job. According to their resume, they have the knowledge you need and years of experience. And best of all, this freelancer’s rate is far below what other similarly qualified people charge. You decide to hire them and pay a deposit upfront. Your new contractor seems to get to work. But weeks pass, and the project still isn’t finished. In fact, your freelancer stops responding to messages.

Unfortunately, this "qualified freelancer" is likely an imposter. Scammers are stealing the photos and resumes of real independent contractors and posting them on freelancer sites. They may even contact freelancers directly and ask to use their profile in exchange for payment or promise of future work.

Tips to Spot a Freelancer Impersonation Scam:

Watch out for "too good to be true" rates. Before hiring a freelancer, do some research and know the standard hourly rate for the position you want to hire. If an experienced candidate is advertising a price well below that – for example, a professional web developer who charges $25 an hour – it’s very likely a scam.

Do a video interview before hiring. Always speak with top applicants over video chat first. Make sure they match their photo and have the knowledge and experience they claim in their profile. Put that requirement in your job post to help weed out scammers.

Find your freelancer on other platforms. Look for your freelancer’s LinkedIn profile, portfolio website, or social media presence. This will help you confirm their identity and experience.

Report phony accounts: To report a suspicious account on Upwork, click the “Flag as inappropriate” button. Learn more about reporting scams on Upwork.

Freelancers, make sure you aren’t being impersonated. Scammers can steal your photo, portfolio, and resume from sites like LinkedIn. Be sure that someone isn’t impersonating you online and hurting your reputation.

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