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Avoiding Scams on the Web

By: J.A.J Aaronson - Updated: 23 Sep 2010 | comments*Discuss
Scam Avoid Payment Paypal Escrow

The rapid growth of the internet as a widely available form of communication has meant a considerable increase in the number of opportunities available to those who wish to carry out non-standard work. More and more people are now self-employed, with many either running their own internet-based business, or sourcing the majority of the work from the web.

However, this growing dependence on the internet has had its downsides. The lack of personal contact with the employer has meant that the possibility of scams has also grown. If you are considering freelancing, you should be aware of some of the most important ways to keep yourself safe while working.

Piece Work

In fact, some scams have not been affected at all by the technological onslaught. It is still common to see adverts looking for people to stuff envelopes or assemble items. These adverts should always be treated with suspicion, as this type of work has generally been superseded by automated processes. However, the number one rule when considering ads of this type is to never send any money. Any employer who requires a 'registration fee' in order that you can work for them is almost certainly fraudulent. Similarly, many individuals have sent off money, supposedly in order to receive the tools they need to do the job, and have been sent nothing but a booklet on how to place similar ads in return.


If you are dealing on the internet, one of the most important considerations is how you will be paid. It is vitally important that you arrange both the method and rate of payment before you embark on any type of work. This will help to avoid conflict when the job is complete. You should think carefully about how you would like to be paid. You should avoid methods which require you to share any of your account details, such as BACS or wire transfer. Similarly, while instant payment facilities such as Paypal are better, you will have no guarantee that your employer intends to pay you at all when you complete the job.


In order to remedy this problem, an American company have developed a service called Escrow. This is similar to Paypal, except the employer is obliged to place the relevant sum of money into an account before the work is delivered. This acts as a guarantee to you that they intend to make payment. Finally, in order to protect the employer, the money is only released once the work has been delivered to them and they have approved it.

The golden rule of dealing on the internet is to never share any personal banking details. With the number of cases of identity theft rising constantly, it makes little sense to take such a risk. If you have any doubts as to the legitimacy of your employer, you should refuse to take their offer of employment - it is always better to be safe than sorry. As long as you take a moment to think before you commit, however, there is no reason why you should not have a successful, scam-free career as a freelancer. Good luck!

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