Freelancer Identity Theft: What You Should Know

Tech innovations are helping everyone do a smarter job, including identity thieves. It’s a big problem according to statistics. Freelancer sites have gone out of their way to put spam algorithms in place to catch the bad guy before someone falls victim. But the smartest of them slip through these algorithms and cause suffering to unsuspecting freelancers.

With more ‘accept cookies’ requests everywhere, and massive information storing, online, identity thieves have an easy time shoplifting other people’s identities. The US sees more of it than other countries. 3.2 million Americans reported their identities stolen in 2019.

As a freelancer, keeping vigil is about recognizing how these scammers work. Here’s what you should know.

Where it All Starts

Identity theft is a form of intellectual property theft. It works the same way a person would steal a creative’s work and call it their own. Identity thieves don’t care about how much effort you’ve put to get where you are. They want to share your glory and take the perks that come with it.

Open freelance sites are their playground. They steal top profiles and solicit for jobs by pretending to be that person. The problem with open freelance sites is they don’t investigate job applicants, leaving the site open to fraudulent activity.

Open freelance sites are meant to encourage as many applications and job postings as possible. Thieves just take advantage of the laxity to steal from people. Interviews on freelancer sites are based on documents and not faces. It’s easy to claim you’re the top-rated freelancer many hope to hire.

How to Know if You’re a Victim

You don’t have to find a slew of accusatory messages in your inbox to find out someone stole your identity. It can be as easy as searching your name on popular freelance sites. But these sites also allow ‘invisible profile features’, so a person can hide for a long time. Go further and sign up on these sites. You may be shocked by the results. Some may spell your name differently or add an underscore to stay hidden.

How to Make Identity Thieves Sweat for It

It’s impossible to be 100% ‘breach proof’. Prevention here lies in making the thief sweat so that they’ll give up. Most thieves won’t spend too much time on one account while there are hundreds to choose from.

So how do you secure your freelancer profile? Here are a few hacks you should try.

Having a different name on every account you own is a bad idea. Instead, upload links to your profile on all accounts. If you’re on Facebook, post a link to your profiles on other accounts including email. Put up a disclaimer too. Tell the world those are the only profiles you use. It makes it easy for clients to find out when they’re interacting with a fake account.

Sign up on every freelance platform available. You’ll beat identity thieves in their game if you get an account first. You only leave them with a duplicating option. The goal is to keep a genuine account you can track and differentiate from fake accounts. Most algorithms will prevent duplicate accounts too.

Pursuing Identity Thieves

Hopefully, identity theft will never happen to you and cause you misery. But if it does, dealing with the issue is often troublesome.

For starters, freelance sites are governed by their terms of service which includes protecting user privacy. Even when you report your case to customer support, hardly will the site reveal the thief’s identity.

People have been relying on DMCA notices to deal with this problem. The notice is sent to the site where the theft occurred and the hosting company that hosts the fake account or content you want taken down. These DMCA services are chargeable but may be worthwhile. In the end, prevention is better than cure.

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