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6 Ways To Check On A Job Poster And Avoid Scams

writing scamsEvery now and again someone posts that one or another of the freelance jobs we post here are scams. I’m always glad to hear about them, but sometimes I wonder how accurate those perceptions are.

There are, of course, some things that make me want to scream scam right away, including:

  • Paying up front for the job – absolutely not necessary in the freelance writing world. This also includes paying for jobs lists, even though I’m tempted to charge for mine.
  • Requests for significant work as a “sample,” and yes, an article is significant work. Avoid these unless you get a contract and some payment up front.

There are at least a couple of other things you can do as well, if you suspect a job posting is bogus.

  • If there is a domain name, including what follows the @ sign, you can always check it out at whois.net. That may tell you something useful.
  • You can google asking if XXXX is a scam. The XXXX might be a domain name, or it might be the title of the job if it’s distinctive, or the email address if it’s in the ad. It always surprises me how often information about scams is posted if I look for them.
  • Some people use throwaway emails like hotmail to avoid spam and to avoid giving their real email to scammers. I’m not sure how effective that actually is.

Of course, your best defense is your own good judgement. Seriously. As you read the ad ask yourself if it makes sense and feels legitimate. Do they promise more than they can deliver? Is it too vague? Does a link lead you somewhere you don’t want to go?

Your instincts are better than you know. Follow them.

There are lots of decent writing jobs out there, many never advertised right in your own location.

Remember you really are the expert on your own life.

You may also want to read I Don’t Want These Clients!

How do you protect yourself against writing scams?


Image from http://www.sxc.hu

{ 7 comments… add one }
  • Anne,

    Thank you for this article. I am researching how to avoid this type of potential issue for the future.


  • Hi Anne,
    I answered an ad where a small press was looking for an editor. The company’s web site had numerous errors — typos, misspellings, punctuation, etc. — so I marked up their “About” page and returned it to them along with my resume. They responded positively but said I needed to edit a sample chapter before they could work with me. The red flag for me was that the person emailing me didn’t reveal who they were — no name and no contact info other than an anonymous email address. When I asked who I was corresponding with, they didn’t bother to answer. Just as well!

    By the way, I continue to work for a customer that came from one of your lists in 2006, and I just picked up a new client, thanks to your job list. Thanks again for your efforts!

    (I still miss the forum :o\ … )


    • Anne

      Sandy, good point; if a company won’t identify itself in email correspondence they may be a scam, or at least really confused about how to work with people.

    • Anne

      I may re-institute the forum in another format… in fact I’ll run a survey on that, maybe starting today… takes some time… sigh everything takes time.

  • Sage advice, Anne. Thanks for always steering writers in the right direction. Many times if a job smells fishy I give the poster or the company name a Google to see if there are any complaints. Of course, it’s more difficult with anonymous ads. For fishy sounding Craigslist ads with no name or business, I might apply my self to see if it’s really legitimate.
    .-= Deb Ng´s last blog ..Some Quick Tips for Balancing a Full Time Job While Building Your Freelance Writing Business =-.

    • Anne

      Thanks Deb… I’ve been known to apply to those fishy ones myself… we both work hard to help our writing community… mutual admiration society

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