Establishing your freelance writing career can be a rewarding endeavor, though it doesn’t come without its own set of risks.
Freelancing jobs are typically found online and as you might already know, the internet is filled with scams.
Though not everyone uses freelancing websites such as Upwork to find their jobs, it’s important to know that scammers flock to freelance sites in hopes of being able to take advantage of those seeking employment.
The internet is filled with scams.
I’ve personally encountered a few different scams while searching for freelance jobs, all of which were found on freelance sites. If I didn’t have my computer secure and I wasn’t as savvy at picking up on online scammers, I could have landed myself into some trouble.
Luckily, keeping your information safe while you’re using the internet or freelancing isn’t too tricky if you know where to start.
Here are some tips to help you out.
Set Up Security Software
Many people know that having an anti-virus program installed is a great idea, but there is another security program you should never go without as well: a VPN.
VPN stands for Virtual Private Network and can help you keep your information safe by hiding your location and encrypting your internet connection.
Working on all devices, a VPN can also keep you safe while connecting to public Wi-Fi on the go.
VPNs are remote servers and act as an encrypted tunnel in which your information gets routed through. Whenever your location is being determined (through your IP address), the VPN’s will show instead of your own.
Staying connected to a VPN while you’re using the net is likely to deter hackers, though your safety can never be guaranteed online.
In a lot of cases, hackers actually acquire your personal information because of a data breach experienced by a company that had your info on file, or they acquire it because you were tricked into handing it over yourself.
However, a VPN will still make a huge difference when it comes to protecting you while you’re on the net. It’s not hard to avoid common online security mistakes after all, and as long as you do, a VPN and anti-virus program should do a fine job at keeping your information protected.
Besides protecting your personal information, there are other benefits to using a VPN as well.
Learn How to Spot a Scam
Even with security software protecting you, it’s wise to learn about some scams that are commonly targeted at freelancers.
For starters, avoid any job that requests that you pay up front for materials or anything else. You should never have to fork over some cash in order to start on a job.
Avoid giving potential employers your banking information as well, even if they claim they will be using it for direct deposit purposes. Instead, request that they pay you over a secure service such as PayPal or even through a freelancing site.The less personal information you give out, the better.
If you do prefer using freelance websites to find your jobs, avoid any invitations to interview from those who only have an email address included in the job listing, without any details about the actual job.
The less personal information you give out, the better.
These invitations are typically sent from scammers, and when you do email them, they usually ask that you interview over a messenger such as Yahoo or AIM. During the interview process, they will ask for your address and other details, and sometimes even ask that you front the money to pay for supplies until they can mail you a check to reimburse you.
Another common tactic used by scammers is to ask the freelancer to provide them with a sample of their work, sometimes even asking them to write ten pages to show that they are qualified for the job.
At times these are legitimate employers, but more commonly, they are not and are only looking to get free content to post on their site or sell off to others. If a potential employer asks that you write more than one article for them as a sample, it’s best to avoid working with them, especially if they refuse to consider accepting a previously written sample instead.
Don’t Share Too Much
Try to keep the personal information you share to a minimum, especially when working remotely. Ask yourself if you feel that the employer actually has a reason to ask for certain personal details. If something seems suspicious, it’s wise to back out of the job and move on to a different one.
When working remotely, it’s not always likely for a client to actually need your address, your full name, copy of your ID, or your social security number.
If you are only working for an individual and not a large business, it’s probably unnecessary to share many of these details. In any case, if you aren’t sure about why they would need the information they are requesting, just ask them and see if their explanation sounds logical to you or not.
Most of all, keep your banking information to yourself.
There’s no reason why an employer should need your account info when you are working remotely. It’s probably wise to keep your social media accounts to yourself as well, since it’s not uncommon to share a lot of personal information about yourself on your accounts.
Use Freelancing Sites When Possible
Not everyone is a fan of these sites, but they can help you keep some of your information safe. For example, since freelancing sites work as the middle man between you and the employers, there’s no need to share any payment details, and many times, you won’t even need to share your email address.
They also tend to offer payment protection for both you and the employer, so scammers aren’t as likely to be able to take off without paying you for the work you’ve done.
As far as freelance sites go, there are a few to choose from, but I would recommend starting out with either Upwork or Guru.
Go With Your Gut Feeling
Most of all, it’s important to listen to your own intuition when dealing with potential employers. If anything sounds suspicious, it’s probably because it is. Security software should be your first step in protecting your personal information, but remember that you’ll still have to do your part too.
Learning about scams to watch out for is one of the easiest ways to prevent any issues while freelancing. Once you know what to keep an eye out for, you should be able to keep your information safe without a problem!
Now it’s your turn – tell us how you keep safe online.
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