Freelancers work hard, track down clients and set their own hours. Life as a freelancer can be a lot of fun, and you can be your own boss. Developers are in very high demand, so if you offer some form of development, you’ll find plenty of jobs waiting for you.
But life as a freelance developer also has its downsides.
You may come across an amazing client that pays on time and treats you like a valued member of the team, or you may have clients that engage in fraudulent activities.
The top ten times a developer may encounter fraud as a freelancer are:
1. Non-Milestone Payments
Developers need to put food on their tables, but it’s not always easy to finish projects fast. The scopes of some projects are massive, and with development services, web app testing and bug fixes, it can take several months to complete a project.
When a client doesn’t want to pay in milestones, they’ll often not want to pay the full price for development at the end of the project.
2. Fast Turnaround Times
A common issue that freelancers face is the client that demands fast turnaround times. The client may ask you to complete the project fast – unrealistically fast – and these clients are often the first to not provide payment.
3. Code Stealing
Placing code on the client’s web server or on their repository can lead to disaster. When you place code out in the open like this, there’s nothing you can do to stop the client from stealing the code and never paying you for it.
Safeguard yourself by placing the source code on a development server that the client doesn’t have access to already.
4. Fake Job Postings
A lot of job postings are real, but you’ll also come across a lot of fake job postings. You want to be very cautious of these fake job postings because they sound real. The person will often act like their part of a major corporation, so freelancers will jump at the chance to work with them.
The problem is that the poster is not part of the company and is luring you in with the promise of payment that will never come.
5. Never Paying for Invoices
You completed work, you worked hard on a project and yet the client can’t seem to muster up the courage to pay you. The biggest issue facing freelancers is clients that do not want to pay invoices. Even if you’ve worked for a client for many years, always demand payments in milestones or upfront to avoid not being paid.
Non-payment is the biggest fraud of all.
6. Reputation Ruin
If you’re working on a platform like Upwork, you know that your client ratings will have a major impact on your ability to land jobs. Some clients will work with you, and at the end of the project, they may threaten you with a bad review if you don’t take a price cut or hand over the source code without payment.
7. Off Platform Work
Upwork and the like have measures in place to protect you from fraud. When you take your work off of these platforms, these protections are gone. If a client wants to take the conversation off the platform, make sure that you proceed with caution.
8. Prices Changes
Always make sure that you have all of the hourly pricing information in writing. There will be some clients that say “I never agreed to that price” after the project is done. When you have the project pricing in writing, it will act as a safeguard against this type of fraud.
9. Refusing to Sign Contracts
Refusing to sign a contract is not fraud, but it often leads to fraud. Your contract should have all of the important project details included. The details will include the project information, pricing, payment, late fees – everything you can include to safeguard yourself.
10. Asking for Your Tax Information
If a client is paying you on PayPal or you’re using a platform like Upwork, there is no reason for the client to have any of your tax information. The freelance platforms will send you all of the appropriate documentation, and PayPal or a digital payment service will do the same.
Clients that ask for your personal information, such as your social security number or equivalent, maybe trying to steal your identity.