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Writing Scams: the Sequel

By Dave Goetsch

With all the uproar about social data privacy going on at the moment, it seemed like a good time to revisit job scams. There is more to an online scam than someone stealing your bank information or your friends list on a social media platform. If you are looking for a writing job, you’re just as vulnerable as the next online employment seeker.

To be fair, third party websites do a pretty good job of weeding out con artists looking to take advantage of a hopeful new writer. But no website is foolproof. For every scammer that gets shut down, another will take his place within a week. If you are using a site such as Craigslist to find jobs, you need to be even more diligent. With millions of ads going up and down every day, there is only so much any good company can do. The rest is up to you as the job seeker.

But don’t think that you’re doomed to fail in your quest to find legitimate online writing assignments. You just have to understand what to look for as you interact with someone who has posted a job. Even after the first exchange or two, keep an eye out for signs that this job is not what it seems to be. If anything is suspicious, listen to your instinct. It’s better to walk away from something that seems too good to be true, only to find out the hard way that it was. These are some common tactics that scammers will use to get sensitive information from you.

They ask Inappropriate Financial Questions
Of course any good business is going to want the basics, such as your name, writing experience, and maybe some links to writing samples. But no reputable client is going to tell you very little about the job but ask for your banking information.

Even if they tell you that it is just to check and make sure you are eligible for direct deposit, that is a serious red alert. Unless you have been offered a job and have 100% verified that a company is legitimate, never give them any of your financial information.

They Want Access to Your Personal Data
While there is nothing illegal about looking at a person’s public information, scammers will take it a step further. They may tell you they need information about your family and friends so they can check your character.

Professional and personal references are one thing, but if a potential employer wants your social media usernames and passwords, tell them you’re not interested in the position. Not only could they sell your data, but they could sell all of the information you have available about your friends and family.

They ask You to Work for Free
As part of the application process, you should expect to have to do a sample, or trial article as it is known in the business. A company that is interested in hiring you wants to see that you can do a good job and will be a good fit. But they’re also going to know that time is money, and that you should be compensated for your work.

You wouldn’t show up for an office job, work for a day with no pay, and then let them tell you that they didn’t want to keep you. In the same light, if a company says that you have to write five trial articles without payment, they could plan on using your free labor for their own profit.

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