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Providing a SS# to an agency for a W9 before a job is assigned
Thread poster: Kelly O'Connor

Kelly O'Connor  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 07:30
Italian to English
Apr 17, 2009

I have been contacted for a possible job by a large agency (the job was posted here on Proz and the agency has good ratings on the Blue Board)

They asked me to fill out a W9 complete with my social security number. I replied that I was uncomfortable giving that information before a job is assigned and an invoice issued. I have worked with other US agencies and I have never filled out a W9 before a relationship has begun.

Am I being overly cautious? Or should the agency wait at least until an invoice is issued to solicit this information from me

thanks for your thoughts

Kelly


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The Misha
Local time: 07:30
Russian to English
+ ...
You may just be a little too cautious Apr 17, 2009

What you have to realize is that most large agencies are nothing but corporate bureaucracies where everyone is mostly interested in covering their you-know-what. I've had it both - or, rather, multiple ways: giving them a W-9 before or after the PO, or never having to give it at all, or better yet, never even receiving a 1099 in the end. If they are a big one, they may just be stuck in their ways for the obvious reason that no one ever asked them for anything different. Ask them to send you a PO first if you are concerned and see what happens, but, paranoid as I am myself, I wouldn't be, not much anyway.

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Jenn Mercer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 07:30
Member (2009)
French to English
I have done this before Apr 17, 2009

I agree with your feelings of caution, but I have done this before with translation agencies and in freelance writing situations. Many large companies prefer to get all the paperwork settled up front so that they will not have outstanding issues later.

The best security that you can give yourself in this situation is to get an EIN number from the IRS. This can be used in place of your SS#.


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Katalin Horváth McClure  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:30
Member (2002)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Do you have a contract or a signed PO? Apr 17, 2009

Kelly,
I would only send out a W9 with the first invoice.
They do not need it before paying you.
Alternatively, if you have a signed contract, or a PO, you may consider giving it to them at that point, but they really don't need it until it is time to pay you.
(Actually, they don't need it until it is reporting time to the IRS, but many companies, especially large ones like to put the W9 into the appropriate folder at the time of the first payment and keep track of all payments throughout the year linked to that.)
Katalin

[Edited at 2009-04-17 14:00 GMT]


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Kelly O'Connor  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 07:30
Italian to English
TOPIC STARTER
No, no PO yet Apr 17, 2009

Katalin Horvath McClure wrote:

Kelly,
I would only send out a W9 with the first invoice.
They do not need it before paying you.
Alternatively, if you have a signed contract, or a PO, you may consider giving it to them at that point, but they really don't need it until it is time to pay you.
(Actually, they don't need it until it is reporting time to the IRS, but many companies, especially large ones like to put the W9 into the appropriate folder at the time of the first payment and keep track of all payments throughout the year linked to that.)
Katalin

[Edited at 2009-04-17 14:00 GMT]


That's why I'm reluctant. I have no written PO, just a couple of email exchanges. I don't want to be paranoid, but I can't understand why they are so insistent. I also don't want to lose the opportunity to begin working with this agency, but I'm still uncertain

K


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sokolniki  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:30
English to Russian
+ ...
Common practice,.. Apr 17, 2009

.. especially for rush jobs. I provided my SSN numerous times and nothing wrong happened (well, I will keep my fingers crossed). Sometimes you send your paperwork to an agency and never hear from them again, or, several years later they suddenly show up with a ton of well-paid work. Most of them prefer to have all your financial info on file prior to giving you a project. Good luck and it is your call.

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Alexandra Goldburt
Local time: 04:30
English to Russian
+ ...
I do it as a matter of routine Apr 29, 2009

In fact, I do it as part of my marketing. When I contact a prospective client, I offer to send my resume, and if I feel that he/she shows sufficient interest, I also offer to send a W-9. It demonstrates to my future clients that I'm serious about working with them, and confident that we will work together in the future. I can add that many "prospective clients" became my real clients with this approach.

I realize there is some risk involved, but I don't think the risk is so great as to loose any sleep over it. Understand that we expose our social security number many times in the course of our lives. Some examples: when filling out an application to rent an apartment (which we might or might not get). When applying for a job (again, which we might or might not get). When applying for credit with a department store. Etc. And how can we be sure that an apartment complex, a potential employer or a department store doesn't have a dishonest employee?

Personally, I made a decision not to worry, just to check my credit report periodically to make sure nothing fishy is going on. I've been OK so far.


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Kathryn Litherland  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 07:30
Member (2007)
Spanish to English
+ ...
What difference does a PO make? Apr 30, 2009

If something untoward is going to happen to your SSN, how much reassurance is a PO, really? If they're scammers, they can easily draw up a fake PO. If there's a rogue employee who's misusing access to confidential records--again, I don't see how having a PO or not makes any situation of abuse you might fear less likely.

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