Received urgent request today for personal data
Thread poster: Robert Forstag

Robert Forstag  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 15:53
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Mar 15, 2016

A couple of hours ago, I received a boiler-plate message from a translation agency requesting me to complete and submit forms on the premise of obtaining work from said agency pursuant to a massive contract for translating material in a wide variety of language combinations for the US Department of Homeland Security.

What I find strange about this request is the following:

1.
The demand that the forms be completed and submitted within the next day.
2.
I have never worked for the agency in question.
3.
There is no indication of the rates being offered, but simply a vague promise that "there will be plenty of work for everyone."

As I assume that the e-mail I received went out to thousands of translators who have profiles on this site, I am interested in others' impressions.



[Edited at 2016-03-15 17:28 GMT]


 

philgoddard
United States
Member (2009)
German to English
+ ...
Have they got the contract? Mar 15, 2016

Or are they bidding for it? If it's the latter, it should go straight into your deleted box.

 

Robert Forstag  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 15:53
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
@Phil Mar 15, 2016

According to the e-mail, the agency is one of a number that has been awarded a contract.

 

LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 15:53
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
I would forget about it. Mar 15, 2016

From what I've heard, the U.S. government's translation agency pays 0.07 a word, so it would not be worth your time anyway. For .07 a word, you are better off to take a nap or read a good book.

[Edited at 2016-03-15 17:54 GMT]


 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 21:53
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Also received a similar request today Mar 15, 2016

There seems to be some urgency to obtain my CV by tomorrow morning. Whenever a seller or potential business partner urges me to do things, I get suspicious. I think I will pass on this one...

 

Robert Rietvelt  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:53
Member (2006)
Spanish to Dutch
+ ...
A bonafide agency...... Mar 15, 2016

..... knows about translation, so they know what is "humanly" possible and what is not (ditto time and payment). Could be an urgent job (always possible), but then the payment is consistent with the demands, ergo the payment. Rates should be mentioned.

Sounds "fishy".



[Edited at 2016-03-15 22:26 GMT]

[Edited at 2016-03-15 22:28 GMT]


 

Robert Forstag  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 15:53
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Agree Mar 15, 2016

Tomás Cano Binder, CT wrote:

There seems to be some urgency to obtain my CV by tomorrow morning. Whenever a seller or potential business partner urges me to do things, I get suspicious. I think I will pass on this one...


This was my reaction as well, especially in light of the three factors I indicated in my initial post.


 

Jean-Pierre Artigau
Canada
Local time: 15:53
English to French
+ ...
All the evidence that make such a request suspicious Mar 15, 2016

1) You have never heard of such an agency;
2) Urgency, they want you to respond immediately (no time to think, a good psychological trap known to any good salesman);
3) Requesting personal data;
4) No indication of the rates offered, and they don't ask you to enter your rate anywhere;
5) Work announced is "massive" and in a large (indeterminate) number of language combinations (i.e. whatever your language combination, this is for you). "Plenty of work for everyone", that looks like an electoral program. It will also distract your attention from the absence of any mention of rates;
6) Work announced comes from a prestigious client you would be proud to serve, and a good conversation piece at you next birthday's party. Does the US Department Homeland and Security really entrust it's prose to the lowest bidder agency, who will in turn send them over to a few hundred lowest bidder translators, and do so without asking any credentials?

If it's too good (and too vague) to be true, it isn't true.

Jean-Pierre


 

Robert Forstag  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 15:53
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Yep Mar 15, 2016

Jean-Pierre Artigau wrote:

Does the US Department Homeland and Security really entrust it's prose to the lowest bidder agency, who will in turn send them over to a few hundred lowest bidder translators, and do so without asking any credentials?

If it's too good (and too vague) to be true, it isn't true.

Jean-Pierre


Excellent point here, Jean-Pierre. It strikes me for one as a very unprofessional approach on the part of the agency in question, especially for such a prestigious client and such a large contract....


 

James McVay  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 15:53
Russian to English
+ ...
My (admittedly ancient) experience Mar 16, 2016

Around 40 years ago, I was involved in selecting a translation contractor while I was working for a US government agency. The selection process involved reviewing the qualifications of the translators working for the agencies that had bid on the contract. That meant that the translation agencies already had a group of translators that they would assign to work on our documents. Therefore, a reputable agency that had already been awarded a contract should not be facing an urgent requirement to identify new translators.

My experience may be ancient, but I really don't think things have changed all that much.

Incidentally, the translation rates paid on government contracts were low then, and they haven't changed much. A couple of years ago, I was asked to support a translation agency bidding on a contract from the government agency I had previously worked for. I gave the translation agency my standard rate and later found out that the contract was awarded to a different agency at a rate two cents less than my rate. That suggests that the translators working for the agency that was awarded the contract were probably working for around $0.04 per word.


 

Robert Forstag  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 15:53
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
$0.04/word?? Mar 16, 2016

James McVay wrote:

Around 40 years ago, I was involved in selecting a translation contractor while I was working for a US government agency. The selection process involved reviewing the qualifications of the translators working for the agencies that had bid on the contract. That meant that the translation agencies already had a group of translators that they would assign to work on our documents. Therefore, a reputable agency that had already been awarded a contract should not be facing an urgent requirement to identify new translators.

My experience may be ancient, but I really don't think things have changed all that much.

Incidentally, the translation rates paid on government contracts were low then, and they haven't changed much. A couple of years ago, I was asked to support a translation agency bidding on a contract from the government agency I had previously worked for. I gave the translation agency my standard rate and later found out that the contract was awarded to a different agency at a rate two cents less than my rate. That suggests that the translators working for the agency that was awarded the contract were probably working for around $0.04 per word.


It is difficult for me to imagine even minimally qualified US-based translators in any language combination willing to work for $0.04/word, especially after having to fill out the paperwork required to go through a security clearance.

Where do the winning bidders find such creatures?

[Edited at 2016-03-17 04:58 GMT]


 

Liviu-Lee Roth
United States
Local time: 15:53
Romanian to English
+ ...
I work for this agency Mar 17, 2016

I have been with them for over 8 years and for my pair they pay .15/.05 (Trans/review). I received the mail about the new platform and it is very general.

I don't know what to say ...


 

Liviu-Lee Roth
United States
Local time: 15:53
Romanian to English
+ ...
Anybody interested in how much agencies charge the gvt.? Mar 18, 2016

Check this site and you'll find your answers.

http://www.gsaelibrary.gsa.gov/ElibMain/sinDetails.do?executeQuery=YES&scheduleNumber=00CORP&flag=&filter=&specialItemNumber=382%202


 

IanDhu  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 21:53
Member (2005)
French to English
Don't touch this one with a bargepole Mar 20, 2016

Robert Forstag wrote:

... I received a boiler-plate message from a translation agency requesting ...

What I find strange about this request is the following:

1.
The demand that the forms be completed and submitted within the next day.
2.
I have never worked for the agency in question.
3.
There is no indication of the rates being offered, but simply a vague promise that "there will be plenty of work for everyone."



To all intents and appearances, this outfit looks like a bucket shop. Don't touch it. Your translator's instincts sent you the right message: it looks like spam, and even if the application did happen to be bona fide, which I doubt, it's too rushed and indefinite to be professional.

The most disturbing element was asking for personal details at very short notice: this in my view points strongly to a scam.

I haven't taken the trouble to ascertain whether the supposed agency had correctly quoted the title of the US government agency, since everything about this rushed proposal reeks of falsehood. It just isn't consonant with professional practice. The problem is, there are many of these unreliable offers about, and it is a good safe rule to avoid anything that looks odd or out of the ordinary.

With kind regards,

Adam Warren (ProZ: IanDhu, Translator 41189)


 


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