How to avoid scams on Upwork and Freelancer


Scammers are not only targeting you via emails or lucrative ads, they are also common on Upwork (formerly oDesk), and other freelancing marketplaces. If you are not cautious, it is easy to fall prey to scams on Upwork or Freelancer. Scammers will get their jobs done by you and then disappear without paying you for your efforts. Besides legitimate projects, there are several types of scams on online job portals. Let’s see how to avoid them.

Read the Project Description Attentively

Some newbie freelancers often apply for jobs without understanding the project description. Don’t do it ever. Read the job posting first to last. Realize what the prospective client wants. Legitimate buyers would always make their requirements clear in the job description. They will mention the desired units of deliverables, work-hours, budgets and the payment structure. If a job post invites you to apply for jobs just by telling “Tremendous work from home opportunity! Earn up to $200 per hour simply by browsing the Internet! Once you are awarded the job, you must purchase a small manual that will guide you in your daily tasks….” or something like this, most probably that’s a scam. How could you earn $200 by surfing the internet? Don’t be fooled by abnormally higher rates or peculiar tasks.

A good client should tell you at least four things: what they want, what qualification they require, their payment policy and the project duration. And an offering should sound reasonable. Use your common sense here.

Check the Client’s Profile

All of the clients with blank profiles are not necessarily bad. Still, experts suggest to be careful in dealing with them. A reliable client should have a payment method verified with the marketplace. Check the client’s ratings and their feedback from the contractors. A good client should receive mostly great reviews and ratings.

Avoid Free Samples

Most of the times, fraud buyers ask free sample works from the applicants. Some big freelancing marketplaces prohibit such demands. Providing a sample work is a crucial part of the recruitment process, because it helps the client to evaluate the candidates. But they have to pay for it. Never agree to provide a free sample – some scammers are exploring the web to trick the newbie freelancers to get their works done at zero cost.

Payment Security

Yes, freelancing marketplaces take a certain percentage from your earnings via those sites. In exchange, you get a secured payment mechanism. For your newer clients, demand up-front payments or escrow protections for fixed priced jobs. Major online freelancing sites provide escrow systems to prevent payment disputes. There are hourly contracts where you can use official time tracker apps provided by freelance marketplaces to log your job related activities and get paid automatically.

Simply, before working on a fixed price contract, ensure that the milestone payment is funded on the escrow. If it’s an hourly job offer, check whether the client’s payment method is verified or not. If yes, then go for a contract, turn the time tracker ON for the appropriate job and then start working. When you have a history with a trusted client, you do not necessarily need to continue using their time tracker. You can use 3rd party time tracking apps like Screenshot Monitor that provide more convenient way to track your time and communicate the work log to the client. It costs far less than the traditional freelancing marketplaces.

Report Scams

You can detect a scam job post just by reading its description, checking the client details and finally conversing with the prospective buyer. If you find it suspicious, feel free to report against the particular post and/or the client. This action by you will help to protect other freelancers from falling into a trap.


Freelancing is a growing trend around the world. Every day many new freelancers are joining the global freelancing marketplace. Some morally deficient people are exploiting the newbie freelancers’ interests with scam job offers which ultimately lead to a frustration for the victim. But if a freelancer takes some precautionary steps before starting to work, they can evade losing money.