Have you ever been pickpocketed?
You put your purse safely in your handbag or pocket, but when you reach your home, you are shocked because your purse has disappeared.
As you begin your online journey, getting scammed is like being pick-pocketed, but feels worse because you always think you should have listened to your gut to avoid the scam.
Since scammers are well organized and convincing, and the people behind them are difficult to catch, you need to keep your guard up.
Don’t ignore the red flags or that gut feeling.
When I began working online, I was scammed so many times it was not even funny until my friends began to say, online work must be some kind of cult for people to get scammed.
Scammers know who is new and gullible.
Nowadays, I can smell a scam from a mile.
Whether you lose thousands of dollars or just 5 dollars, it is painful getting scammed because no-one wants to lose their hard earned money. In this post, I’ll share nine ‘red flags’ you need to look out for.
1. The ‘Hurry Up’ Red Flag
The client tells you “I need this product or job in two days.”
So you burn the midnight oil desperate to complete the job.
There is such a sense of urgency, and the other person does not want to discuss any other option.
When you deliver your work, they tell you it is below standard and will therefore not pay you.
Notice the short time limit. -This is a red flag.
Always insist on having enough time to do a good job.
Both you and your client must be happy with the contract.
2. Get Rich Quick! Red Flag
Someone online tells you they are selling software that will turn your computer into a money-making machine. The usual price is $900, but for today it is only $250. So you quickly buy this software, only to find you purchased something that does not make sense. All it does is open multiple Ad windows. When you try to get in touch with them, there is no response.
Get rich quick scams come in all sorts of forms.
3. The ‘Free Sample’ Red Flag
A client requests you to write one sample of 900 words, and if they like it, they will offer you the job.
If they don’t like it, well, you just wrote a free sample.
When you are new and desperate for a contract, it is easy to fall for this one.
It is OK to write for free to get experience.
I once wrote for a magazine for free to gain experience and exposure. But if the agreement is you will get paid, then you deserve your pay.
4. The ‘Pick Your Brain’ Red Flag
This one affects coaches.
Coaches earn by giving advice, tips and training.
Too many people want free stuff.
How will a coach make any money if they give everything away for free?
There are many times I give away stuff for free. But some people want free stuff all the time. Not cool!
5. ‘Let’s Avoid The Expensive Fees’ Red Flag
This is normally from Freelance sites like Upwork.
To avoid the percentage, these sites take from client and contractor; you agree to get paid outside of the platform.
Outside payments can be legit, but you need to have worked with the client at least once to establish a trusted relationship. Also, research your client.
6. ‘I’ll Pay You Next Time’ Red Flag
If a customer says this, you will wait forever.
Insist on upfront payment.
Clients who don’t pay will tell you stories like, “I forgot my checkbook” and then disappear.
7. ‘Overcharging and Under-delivering’ Red Flag
Coaches who overcharge you thousands of dollars and under deliver or send you a bunch of links that don’t mean anything.
Unfortunately, I have fallen for this one.
Listen to your gut. If in doubt, ask a friend or your Facebook group members.
Do your own research.
These overcharging coaches normally look very glamorous with wonderful videos that have attractive music.
You begin to dance to the music, and suddenly your emotions are pulled in.
(When you are dancing your brain is not thinking)
You get your credit card and pay those thousands without a second thought.
Nowadays, I don’t trust coaches who advertise with music. Unless I know of people, who can testify about how they have helped them.
Some great Coaches are Rosetta Thurman of Happy Black Woman and Leslie Samuel of Becoming a Blogger. These have been my coaches, and they are excellent.
8. ‘Multiple Samples’ Red Flag
They say, “Write 20 samples, and then I will pay. So you go on your merry way writing all these samples without a contract.
After you deliver them, the person vanishes.
Ouch! All that hard work and sleepless nights.
You need a contract and some upfront payment. When you ask for upfront payment from the client, he or she backs away.
They get uncomfortable with upfront payment or with signing a contract.
9. ‘The Award’ Red Flag
This one makes me laugh.
So one time I got an email telling me this magazine wants to feature me and give me an award. I thought this is great for publicity.
Until they asked me to pay them $ 300 per year.
I decided I don’t need their publicity.
They then begin sending an email every day. They even get hold of my phone number and called daily.
I googled them and read how they were scammers.
I told them I have read all about them. Suddenly the emails and phone calls stop.
Always remember, Google is your friend when it comes to investigating.
You don’t need to pay for any awards.
(Tip -the person is getting your link)
One Last Thing
Before I conclude, let me mention the ‘wisdom of contracts.’
Contacts should be signed with care. Otherwise, you may also not get paid.
In a recent seminar, the lawyer explained how we get into a lot of trouble because we do not read the contacts properly.
For example, a client asks you to sign a contract to write an article a day for $50 up to 30 articles a month.
So you get excited with the $1500 you will make and quickly sign the contract.
Well, what if you fall sick and cannot deliver the 30 articles on time?
Many times you will Not get paid even if you delivered 20 articles because you broke the contract.
If you cannot afford a lawyer, always ask the other party, ‘What if?’
“What if I deliver only 15 articles?”
“What if I cannot complete the job?”
No matter how fantastic the pay looks, before you sign any contract, always ask the ‘What If’ question.
As you enter the online world, tread carefully to avoid heartaches. Listen to your gut and look out for red flags. Do your research, ask questions and avoid making emotional decisions.
I recommend this book because it is written by a lawyer that gives self-publishers and online writers tips to avoid pitfalls.
The author talks about spotting and avoiding scams.
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