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Agencies asking for ID
Thread poster: Jenny Forbes

Jenny Forbes  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:32
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
Jan 29, 2016

Recently, a couple of agencies for which I've been working for several years have asked me for ID documents, copies of passport, driving licence, etc. and even for references from existing clients or previous employers.
I'm not willing to provide copies of my ID documents and politely explain that we are constantly warned in the media or by the police to be extremely cautious about sending such copies because of the risk of identity theft and other kinds of fraud. (Think Talk-Talk).
As to references, surely the agency, which is familiar with my work, is itself my reference? I don't want to ask clients for references (fishing for compliments?) and in most cases it would infringe my confidentiality agreement if I did.
The agencies which want my ID say that it is required to enable them to fulfill some ISO standard and that, if I don't comply, they won't be able to continue working with me.
Is that reasonable? Have other Prozians encountered this problem lately? What should I do?
Puzzled of Penzance


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Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 01:32
English to Croatian
+ ...
Are they good clients? Jan 29, 2016

I understand your concerns, however, you say they are long-term established clients?

If they pay you through bank account, they will have more than enough info about you through that source. I would also be cautious.


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 00:32
Member (2008)
Italian to English
My suggestion Jan 29, 2016

Jenny Forbes wrote:

What should I do?



Dear Puzzled of Penzance,

I suggest you ask them to reciprocate by giving you access to their full company accounts for the past 6 years.


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Jenny Forbes  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:32
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Jan 29, 2016

Thank you, Lingua and Tom.
They're good, established clients in the sense that they pay promptly but they're not among my most frequent or "favoured" ones.
Bonne idée, Tom, en ce qui concerne leurs comptes annuels pour les six derniers exercices"
Yours ever, Puzzled


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Jessica Noyes  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:32
Spanish to English
+ ...
Identity theft prevention? Jan 29, 2016

It could be that they are concerned about translator identity theft prevention and are asking for some baseline information. Then if they think someone might be impersonating you, they can ask them for corroborating information matching your documents. If you want to keep them as clients, one possible option would be to white out any information that you consider to be too sensitive for public consumption. (In the US this would be your DOB and Social Security Number.)

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Dan Lucas  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 00:32
Member (2014)
Japanese to English
ISO 17100 Jan 29, 2016

Jenny Forbes wrote:
The agencies which want my ID say that it is required to enable them to fulfill some ISO standard and that, if I don't comply, they won't be able to continue working with me.

In theory this could be related to section 3.1.4 of ISO 17100:2015, which specifies what translator qualifications are required for compliance.

However, as far as I can see the standard contains no explicit requirement for ID documents, references and the like. So if it is 17100, it sounds like the agency is indulging in a form of gold-plating or it has only a poor understanding of what the standard requires.

I could see that an ID verification might be required for an EU tender but surely the EU would not demand client references?

Regards
Dan


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AndersonT  Identity Verified
United States
Member (2010)
German to English
it's becoming more common in Europe ... Jan 29, 2016

Dan Lucas wrote:

Jenny Forbes wrote:
The agencies which want my ID say that it is required to enable them to fulfill some ISO standard and that, if I don't comply, they won't be able to continue working with me.

In theory this could be related to section 3.1.4 of ISO 17100:2015, which specifies what translator qualifications are required for compliance.

However, as far as I can see the standard contains no explicit requirement for ID documents, references and the like. So if it is 17100, it sounds like the agency is indulging in a form of gold-plating or it has only a poor understanding of what the standard requires.

I could see that an ID verification might be required for an EU tender but surely the EU would not demand client references?

Regards
Dan


I'm inclined to agree with Dan here. Our industry is, in Europe at least, catching up with the DIN EN/ISO craze. If they are in the process of being prepared for certification by a "certification guidance service provider", it is quite reasonable to assume that they are being encouraged to establish documented identity- and competency verification within their QA process (especially if they are also eyeballing ISO 9001 at some point).

If they are an established European client without other "warning signs" of potentially going bad, I wouldn't necessarily see this as a problem.

I've had similar requests in the past, and usually I just ask them if they would be fine with me blacking out a couple digits of my drivers/license passport number etc. If they only want a copy for their internal QA vendor dossier so as to be audit-proof, they shouldn't have a problem with it.


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 00:32
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
But that doesn't make sense Jan 29, 2016

Jessica Noyes wrote:
It could be that they are concerned about translator identity theft prevention and are asking for some baseline information. Then if they think someone might be impersonating you, they can ask them for corroborating information matching your documents.

I can see what you mean, Jessica. But wouldn't a legitimate translator start screaming if they didn't receive the money they were owed? The fact that the translator is happy means that they've received the payment, not an impersonator.


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Texte Style
Local time: 01:32
French to English
crazy Jan 29, 2016

ISO requirements, as I have understood, are that an agency has processes and sticks to them. If the agency states that all data on translators has to be kept in the blue folder, you cannot use a green one. If you simply call it the "translator folder" without specifying the colour, you can change colour every week. So perhaps some well-meaning person has put in their process that they need to see your ID to make sure you are who you say you are, and the poor secretary is having to hassle all their trusty translators.

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philgoddard
United States
Member (2009)
German to English
+ ...
References are wholly inappropriate for a freelance Jan 29, 2016

If you're taking on an employee, you ask them for references. If you're thinking of using a self-employed person, you ask for examples of their work.

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Thomas T. Frost  Identity Verified
Member (2014)
French to Danish
+ ...
Work Jan 29, 2016

philgoddard wrote:

If you're thinking of using a self-employed person, you ask for examples of their work.


Which is also inappropriate, because you can't show other clients' translations to anyone else, except with their permission. Would you ask a lawyer for examples of his work? What proves that you actually translated the samples anyway? You could just send them someone else's work.

If an agency is too complicated, I just let it go, as I get enough work anyway.


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Bernhard Sulzer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:32
English to German
+ ...
I never give out copies of any of my personal documents to clients Jan 29, 2016

As a service provider, I have my own terms and conditions. My identity is verified here on Proz.com and through my email accounts. If there are worries about identity, there are other ways to clarify it. If a (prospective) client can't accept them, well, they won't become or will no longer be my client. When a prospective client asks for copies of passport, driver's license and similar personal documents, my answer will always be a clear No!
When did you last ask a service provider of any kind for their passport and/or driver's license?

[Edited at 2016-01-29 17:40 GMT]


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Jenny Forbes  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:32
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I've decided ... Jan 30, 2016

Thank you, everyone, for your useful contributions.
I've written to the PM and the directors of one of these ID-demanding agencies explaining why I'm unwilling to email (or post) them copies of my ID documents (the risk of ID theft and other kinds of fraud) and referring them to the current Talk-Talk scandal in the UK in which some employee (or ex-employee) of Talk-Talk was selling on customers' ID information, and to the warnings we constantly read from the police and in the media. I told them what a difficult situation they were placing their translators in by demanding this confidential information and pointed out that they already held my bank account details and had been paying my invoices to that account for years.
To enable them to "qualify" me according to their ISO requirements, I've offered to post them a photocopy of the relevant page of my passport with certain identifying details blacked out.
Let's see what their reaction is. If any, I'll report it here.


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Peter Shortall  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:32
Member
French to English
+ ...
ISO standards Jan 31, 2016

That looks like a good response, Jenny. I hope it satisfies them.

On the subject of ISO standards: a while back, a very bureaucratic agency asked me to do a small proofreading job and requested references. As always, I refused to give them. The PM seemed a little suspicious of my reasons and said they required them because the agency was accredited to some ISO standard or other. Still I refused. Eventually, the PM gave in as apparently she couldn't find anyone else (so much for ISO compliance!) The translation I had to proofread was not good, to say the least - so whichever standard they were accredited to, it didn't stop them hiring a poor translator. The agency also required me to fill in a form consisting of about 30 pages to sign up with them.

Some time later, the same agency tried to hire me to translate something from Ukrainian on the grounds that it should be similar enough to Russian for me to work with it (not their exact words, but they said something along those lines). I wonder which ISO standard recommends that approach.

Since that experience, I've become rather wary of agencies that make a fuss about complying with ISO standards. I'm not convinced they're a good fit in the translation business as you simply don't know if a translator is good until you see their work, qualifications don't tell the whole story.


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liviu roth
United States
Local time: 19:32
Romanian to English
+ ...
yes, you do Feb 1, 2016

Bernhard Sulzer wrote:

As a service provider, I have my own terms and conditions. My identity is verified here on Proz.com and through my email accounts. If there are worries about identity, there are other ways to clarify it. If a (prospective) client can't accept them, well, they won't become or will no longer be my client. When a prospective client asks for copies of passport, driver's license and similar personal documents, my answer will always be a clear No!
When did you last ask a service provider of any kind for their passport and/or driver's license?

[Edited at 2016-01-29 17:40 GMT]



When you send them your W-9, you provide them with plenty of info, including your SS# and address. !

Lee


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