How to Avoid Scammers

Learning how to avoid scammers in outsourcing sites can be a bit tricky. Even the top three sites (Elance, Odesk and Freelancer) have their own share of stories about contractors and employers being victims of scammers.

For contractors, being scammed means they do not get full payment for the job they did. Sometimes, they get paid partially but there are other times they do not see even a cent of what was promised. For employers, it means paying for something that is either incomplete, poorly done or a task that was not done at all!

While I believe that no one deserves to be scammed, my sympathies lie with contractors simply because I have never been an employer myself. Whatever I will share here might be applicable to some employers but most of them are best viewed as a contractor in oDesk.

How to Avoid Scammers

Photo Courtesy of Ambro

I can understand how frustrating it must feel – working hard over something and not getting what is rightfully yours.

This is what this article is all about: how to avoid scammers.


Fortunately, I was lucky enough not to fall prey to any scammer. Even my fixed price employers gave me my compensation after I delivered the output of a project – in my case, an article.

I’d like to think that was because I was extremely picky about my employers. I knew what I can deliver and I had to make sure my employers are those who will not over expect what I am capable of giving.

Before I apply for a job, there are a couple of things that I check out.

1. Payment verification

Odesk has a series of payment verifications that will tell you if an employer is reliable when it comes to releasing funds. I never go for employers that have not gone through this process.

2. Work history

If you think that only employers should check this out, well that’s where you are wrong. While employers have the option to keep their company names out of the job post, oDesk gives contractors the option to see the feedback scores received by the employer. I make it a point to see how many they have hired before and the ratings given to them.

3. Feedback

Relative to number 2, I read through a couple of feedbacks. Odesk gives both employers and contractors the chance to rate each other once a contract is completed. When I see a low rating with a hidden comment, I put my guard up and do a bit more reading on other feedbacks. Odesk allows us to hide comments but we cannot do the same for the ratings/scores. If I see one or two negative scores or feedback, I usually move on to the next job post.

I did a project before that required me to create an employer account on oDesk. I was writing an article about how to hire through oDesk and I wanted to experience firsthand how it was like to create an account, post a job, etc. I only got to the part of posting a job so I could see how employers view applications.

Get this, my account was new, I had no payment verification, no work history and no feedback to my name. But despite that, I still got 5 applications within the next few minutes after posting the job! If I was a scammer, I would have got them all!

Clearly some people will go through any lengths to get a job. I understand that but I don’t think it’s right that you jump the gun immediately. It was obvious that these applicants did not care about my background – if I can pay them or not!

Of course with odesk, I wouldn’t be allowed to start a contract without completing the payment verification. But I hope you get my point.How to avoid scammers is really more of a personal vigilance than anything. It is true that outsourcing sites have put up various ways to help protect employers and contractors from being scammed. However, they can only do so much and it is really up to us to watch our own backs.

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