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You had your Upwork profile approved (still rejected? use my checklist) recently, and now you’re excited to get your first job!

Like most freelancers, you immediately searched for jobs that you can apply to. After submitting several proposals, one of the clients replied. You got more excited!

However, something feels wrong. This Upwork client seems to be showing a few signs of being a bad or scam Upwork client.

What should you do?

To help you make the right decision, here are four filters you can use so you can reduce your chances of getting scammed or underpaid, and waste little or no time in the process.

Use These Filters to Screen Your Upwork Clients to Avoid Scams and Bad Clients

1. Filter the Job Post

This is your first line of defense against scams, bad clients, and time-wasters. I’ve been able to filter thousands of scams and bad job offers by checking job posts alone.

Make sure to read the entire job post and it fits your skills well.

At this point in time, I suggest new workers must only deal with clients that are “payment method verified” to reduce risk. It means they’re ready or have been able to pay through Upwork.

Payment method verified clients have a green check mark on the right sidebar of the job post, as seen below:

Upwork payment method verified client_ green checkmark

Upwork payment method verified client

But that filter is not enough. Because not all verified clients offer good jobs, and some of these verified clients are terrible to work with.

You should also do a thorough background check. Check the client’s entire job post, particularly the Work History and Feedback section.

Check the star rating as well as feedback of each worker he’s worked with. Their feedback give you an idea what the client is like. Is the client kind? pays on time? pays fairly (according to your standards)? doesn’t disappear for weeks or months? a scammer? How many workers is the client working with right now?

Here’s an example of a client who has hired many workers, paid close to $10,000 on Upwork, and a 4.80 star rating. The two poor ratings (by two separate workers) should serve as a warning of potential risk if you work with this client.

Upwork client with bad rating or feedback

Upwork client with bad rating or feedback

2. Filter Using Your Proposal

It’s very important to take advantage of your proposal. Aside from telling your client about your skills and qualities, your proposal must include questions whenever necessary.

Ask questions if there’s anything vague about the job post (clients sometimes forget to add critical pieces of details). Ask about pricing and anything else relevant to you as a worker.

3. Filter During the Interview

You’d often have an interview with your client or an assistant. It could be a chat/text-only interview, verbal, or even a video interview.

Use this opportunity to get more details about the job and find red flags, if any.

4. Filter During the Work Proper

If you don’t have good screening or filtering capabilities, you’re prone to accepting scam or bad clients. If this is the case, you still have a chance to get out by filtering once you’ve been hired.

You really should continue observing your client, even after using the three previous filters.

During the work proper, the client may show signs or do actions that are red flags. If you find any red flags, ask for advice from your trusted fellow freelancers or quit as soon as possible. Don’t get trapped in a bad, scam, or illegal Upwork job!

If in Doubt, Ask or Get Out Early!

There are cases wherein your prospective client has victimized other freelancers in the past. Search for clues in forums or Facebook groups. Ask trusted or experienced freelancers.

Many new workers get saved from these bad or scam Upwork clients just by asking.

If you’re in doubt, you can join my Facebook group, Online Jobs Hub, and post your questions there. I’m always on the alert for bad and scam clients. I also get a lot of related questions on my inbox. Many heed my advice (against moving forward with suspicious clients), while some who didn’t heed my advice regret not doing so.

If all else fails, or if early on your instinct tells you that it’s a possible scam, think twice about moving forward. Remember: that $20 or $2,000 job offer is not worth it if you won’t get paid or be able to withdraw it!

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Credit: Photo by Mar Newhall on Unsplash

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