You’ve just landed your next big freelance gig and you’ve only communicated with the client via e-mail. No face-to-face interaction. This is pretty typical of the freelancer industry especially for those of you in the remote work industry. Sounds pretty easy right? Without a doubt, the freelancer industry is booming. More and more employees are ditching their day job, joining the freelance world and are making a living doing it. What’s not to love about that? Of course, there’s always some precautions to take into account like with anything we do. Many may not realize it but identity theft has become a big issue in the freelance world. Yep, that’s right. It even happens to us freelancers in the tech industry! You may think you’re safe going through a freelance platform such as Upwork, Freelancer.com, etc…but keep in mind, it’s just as easy for someone to create a fake profile, use your credentials, and pretend to be you! See what happened to Susan Greene, a skilled copywriter in the freelance industry. Why would someone do this? I guess to make a little extra buck if they can pull it off. If you think about it, it is fairly easy to create a profile on an open freelancer network, steal information from another skilled freelancer’s profile, set your prices and voila! But you can only get so far faking your skills until someone realizes you’re not who you say you are. Unfortunately, there are too many freelance networks out there that do not run the necessary checks when users register as a freelancer. This allows for identity thieves to slip through the cracks. You may think “oh no, this would never happen to me!” Either way, it’s always worth taking the necessary precautions to avoid any mishaps. With that being said, we’ve taken it upon ourselves to warn and educate you on ways to prevent identity theft as a tech freelancer.
1. Check Your Digital FootprintIn order to find out if you have become a victim of identity theft, simply take the first steps and Google yourself. Try to do this same search on multiple search engines. Do you see anything funny popping up? Is your name on a website you haven’t registered on before? This will help to give you a better idea of your digital footprint. Where else is your name appearing? Be sure to check other browser applications too. Do you have any old profiles you no longer use? Take this opportunity to delete these in order to prevent identity theft.
2. Join Protected NetworksThere is a great deal of freelancer networks out there that add additional security measures to not only ensure your skill set but also your professional profile. *selfish plug* One of them being Pangara! We have a unique qualification process where only the best of the best tech freelancers can join with access to a wide array of projects with our clients in Scandinavia. Our qualification process is different from other companies in that it tests all aspects of a freelancer. From their background and experience to their efficiency in development skills — such as .NET or Java –, communication, and more. From there, once you’ve been accepted as a Pangara Talent, we then match your skill set with available projects. As a result of our pre-qualification process, no one can simply pretend to be a skilled developer and pass without us noticing. In addition, make sure you include relevant links on all of the platforms (Facebook, Skype, LinkedIn, etc.) you use and that you are consistent. From the same signature to your bio, portfolio information and more — the more consistent the better.
3. Google AlertsIf you’d like take further action to prevent identity theft, think about setting up Google Alerts. This system will automatically alert you whenever your name makes an appearance online. This will help you to better track the expected and the unexpected.
4. Make ContactIf you have fallen victim to an identity theft situation, the first thing we recommend you do is to contact your freelance service provider as soon as possible. Provide them with your brand’s original website and any additional information that might help them to better verify your account. So there you have it. If there’s one thing you can take away from this blog post in order to prevent identity theft it is to be aware of your online presence. It may seem like a lot of work now, but this will deter identity theft attackers if they see how much of a strong online presence you have. Identity theft isn’t something to take lightly! Not only could someone be taking away job opportunities and money from you but they also could be damaging your freelancer reputation. So, all these preventative measures can do is a help!
Get the 4-Step Infographic Checklist On How to Protect Your Identity Here