How to Avoid Upwork Scams – The Ultimate Guide

How to avoid Upwork scams is unfortunately a question that concerns many rookie freelancers. The platform offers some protection, but it’s up to the freelancers to keep their eyes open. If not, things can become tricky.

Building up a top-notch portfolio, writing quality proposals and avoiding low-performer suspension from Upwork are crucial for Upwork freelancers. However, if they become the prey of numerous scammers who lurk within the platform, the freelance dream of newly-registered users will most likely fall apart instantly. Throughout the internet and even on Upwork forum, you may find numerous freelancer complaints that accuse Upwork of being a scammy platform. It is true that scams happen frequently on Upwork, but I firmly believe that 99% of the people that got scammed didn’t do enough to protect themselves. This article will show you how to protect yourself from the common scam.

Avoid Upwork Scams

Work With Payment Verified Clients

I can’t stress this enough – work ONLY with payment verified clients if you are a rookie. I won’t say that all clients who didn’t verify their payment method are scammers. However, you’d best avoid them if you are new to the platform. One of the common warning signs is their offer seeming too good to be true.

You will often see an unverified client offering excellent feedback to the rookies. They sometimes even put a “New Freelancers Welcome” line in the title of the job, to attract as many unsuspecting, inexperienced freelancers as possible. If you are not paying attention to details, you can easily fall prey to these scams.

Working with these clients is not safe. Of course, they might verify the payment method after you start working for them, but it rarely happens. If you absolutely have to work with them, at least don’t do anything until you see they transferred the money to Upwork.


Avoid Discussing the Job Outside Upwork

You sent a proposal, and you got an answer from the client! You feel that getting the contract is within reach, but your client wants to discuss the job outside the platform – he is asking for your Skype ID or email. Even if a client has payment verified, if he uses this tactic, he might be a scammer.

First, insist that you want to close the deal via Upwork messaging. This is important not only for your protection from scammers, but it also saves you from Upwork suspension, too! If you close the deal with the client outside of the platform, Upwork will lose their commission. In case you type your email while you are chatting with the client on Upwork, you will get an automatic notice that you should stay within the platform for your protection.

If you can’t avoid a Skype conversation with the client, do not agree to finalize the deal over Skype. If something goes wrong and you don’t have proof on Upwork messaging system, the platform won’t do anything to protect you.

Many regular clients ask for an email or a Skype address. They want to see the freelancer and talk to him in person, and that’s completely normal. However, I strongly advise the rookies to avoid this, since many of those clients will try to lure you away from the platform and its protection.

If you agree to talk with them over Skype, summarize the main points of your agreement and ask your client to award you the contract. For example – “Thanks for the offer, John! I accept $25 hourly rate, and I hope you will send the contract details via Upwork soon, so I can start working.”


Take Advantage of Upwork Protection


Upwork protection is everything you need to work without thinking about potential scams if you know how to use it.

If your contract is based on an hourly rate, you will be completely protected while working for payment verified clients.

Upwork hourly protection will keep you safe if you log your hours via the Upwork Desktop App, and if you stay within the contract’s weekly limit. That means you won’t be protected for the hours you log yourself, without the client’s approval. However, if you set everything up with the client in advance, you shouldn’t have any problems.

On the other hand, if you work on a fixed rate contract, things are a bit more complicated. In that case, you have to ask your client to create the milestone and transfer the money to Upwork and after that, you can start working. Do not start working before the client creates the milestone and transfers the money!

It is imperative that you discuss everything important via Upwork. If you encounter difficulties, or enter a dispute with the client, Upwork has the means to protect you. They can go through the whole conversation and the files you’ve sent. In the case everything is as you’ve said in your complaint/dispute, Upwork will automatically release the funds, without the client’s permission.

As a rookie freelancer, you have to be extra careful – scammers target mostly inexperienced workers. If you follow the guidelines from this article, you won’t be double-crossed on Upwork.

Janko Glavonjić

Freelance copywriter interested in sports, science, gaming and fitness. And, of course, the best brother in the world :)

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1 Response

  1. Konsus says:

    Hi, thanks for sharing this!
    I find it really helpful and a great article.
    Please also check out our blog, we just write same topic on How to Learn To Protect Yourself When Working With Giant Freelance Platforms:

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