First assignment... is this legit?
Thread poster: Chrissie_H
Chrissie_H
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:30
English to German
+ ...
Nov 28, 2013

Hello,

I'm just starting out as a freelance translator. After sending my CV to a lot of agencies, I received my first job offer this week. I've already completed the job, but have not received any reply from the agency and am now a bit worried that they may not actually be legitimate.

Firstly, when the agency called to offer me the job their phone number was withheld and they called me after 6pm. I also only ever received the first name of the person on the admin team I was dealing with (after requesting a name) and they did not send me a purchase order for the job. The agency does however have an impressive looking website and claims to be based in the UK. They also advertise on job boards looking for interpreters and translators, which is where I found them. I cannot find any information about them on the Blue Board however or anywhere else. When I looked up their web ID, it says that they've only been in operation for 7 months and the owner is a non-UK individual who is "non-trading" and has chosen not to display his address on WHOIS.

What would you say about this? Would this kind of thing get your alarm bells ringing or is this quite normal for a new agency?

I realise now I should have been more careful to check the agency's credentials before I took on the job. I was simply so excited to finally receive some work though that I completely ignored any doubts.

Any opinions from more experienced translators out there would be much appreciated.

Many thanks!


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 21:30
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Have you checked Companies House? Nov 28, 2013

Chrissie_H wrote:

Hello,

I'm just starting out as a freelance translator. After sending my CV to a lot of agencies, I received my first job offer this week. I've already completed the job, but have not received any reply from the agency and am now a bit worried that they may not actually be legitimate.

Firstly, when the agency called to offer me the job their phone number was withheld and they called me after 6pm. I also only ever received the first name of the person on the admin team I was dealing with (after requesting a name) and they did not send me a purchase order for the job. The agency does however have an impressive looking website and claims to be based in the UK. They also advertise on job boards looking for interpreters and translators, which is where I found them. I cannot find any information about them on the Blue Board however or anywhere else. When I looked up their web ID, it says that they've only been in operation for 7 months and the owner is a non-UK individual who is "non-trading" and has chosen not to display his address on WHOIS.

What would you say about this? Would this kind of thing get your alarm bells ringing or is this quite normal for a new agency?

I realise now I should have been more careful to check the agency's credentials before I took on the job. I was simply so excited to finally receive some work though that I completely ignored any doubts.

Any opinions from more experienced translators out there would be much appreciated.

Many thanks!


There's nothing there that screams "scam", but neither is there anything reassuring, so I think you're right to be a little worried. Did you actually get enough information to send them an invoice? I'm not sure about UK invoicing rules, but it's normal to state the company's registered address on the invoice. They presumably sent you an email - did it contain no identifying information? Have you checked where it was sent from? There's the IP address in the message details that can be looked up, although I'm not sure how useful it is as I think it depends a bit on where your ISP is based. Still, if it's Nigeria or somewhere like that you'll know where you stand.

If it's a UK company, then it should be listed here: http://www.companieshouse.gov.uk/


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 22:30
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Never without a PO... Nov 28, 2013

Chrissie_H wrote:
I've already completed the job, but have not received any reply from the agency and am now a bit worried that they may not actually be legitimate.

Firstly, when the agency called to offer me the job their phone number was withheld and they called me after 6pm. I also only ever received the first name of the person on the admin team I was dealing with (after requesting a name) and they did not send me a purchase order for the job.

Just my two cents: never work without a PO and without looking up the firm to your full satisfaction. I hope this trouble ahead helps you understand the importance of not trusting anyone who happens to email you with a job.

I strongly recommend to see the article on Risk management for translators in Proz.com's Wiki page.


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Chrissie_H
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:30
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Nov 28, 2013

Thanks very much for your replies! I have checked them on Companies House now and they are registered as a UK company, so that's positive, I guess. They have also replied to me in the last hour and want me to enter my bank details on their website in a special section for their translators in order to get paid. Again... something I'm a bit worried about, as they already have access to my CV, address and date of birth...

Maybe there's nothing to worry about here, but I've just been reading so much about scamsters now... I think I'll just wait a bit and see if I can find out more about the company before I give them any additional details - and just put it all down to experience. I'll definitely be a better prepared translator next time!


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Enrique Cavalitto
Local time: 18:30
SITE STAFF
Impersonators and contact information Nov 28, 2013

Hi Crissie,

The agency may have an impressive web page and be trusted and real, and have a golden page in the Blue Board, and you could still be the victim of an impersonating scammer.

You should always ask for verifiable contact information and then verify it BEFORE starting your translation.

Visit their webpage and check in their 'contact us' information their email address, and make sure that the email you received has the same text after the @ (you should not trust free email addresses from corporate clients, they can be OK for freelancers).

Besides the page Tomas recommended, you should visit out scam alert center.

Regards,
Enrique


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 21:30
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Sounds like you've got away with it then Nov 28, 2013

Chrissie_H wrote:
They have also replied to me in the last hour and want me to enter my bank details on their website in a special section for their translators in order to get paid. Again... something I'm a bit worried about, as they already have access to my CV, address and date of birth...

It certainly does sound as though they're legit, then. But I don't understand your reluctance to let them have your bank details: they want to pay you, after all! It's normal to give bank info as well as address - it's on all my invoices. The bank won't let them remove money, unless you set up some sort of direct credit arrangement.

You're right to worry and you certainly need to put more effort into minimising your business risk in the future, but do remember that 99% of clients are perfectly legit. Many of us have been in business for year after year without incurring a cent's/penny's loss. I've had two clients in 15 years take 400€ apiece when they went bankrupt (both regular clients), but nothing else (I'm touching wood as I type).

As for the remarks Tomás makes, I agree with everything he says except that some very good clients just don't send POs so you could be missing out on some very lucrative business by refusing all non-PO jobs outright. I find I get a real sense of what companies are like from early email/phone exchanges. Just make sure the first invoice isn't too big - you're testing them just as much as they're testing you.


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Chrissie_H
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:30
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Bank details Nov 28, 2013

Sheila Wilson wrote:

But I don't understand your reluctance to let them have your bank details: they want to pay you, after all! It's normal to give bank info as well as address - it's on all my invoices. The bank won't let them remove money, unless you set up some sort of direct credit arrangement.



Yes, you're probably right, Sheila! I have realised though that they asked me for my DOB when I applied which I find quite unusual. And once you have a person's DOB plus their bank details plus other personal information ... well, I'll just have to see what happens.

[Edited at 2013-11-28 21:47 GMT]


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Miguel Carmona  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 13:30
English to Spanish
Still, it could be a scam... Nov 28, 2013

Sheila Wilson wrote:

Chrissie_H wrote:
They have also replied to me in the last hour and want me to enter my bank details on their website in a special section for their translators in order to get paid. Again... something I'm a bit worried about, as they already have access to my CV, address and date of birth...

It certainly does sound as though they're legit, then. But I don't understand your reluctance to let them have your bank details: they want to pay you, after all! It's normal to give bank info as well as address - it's on all my invoices. The bank won't let them remove money, unless you set up some sort of direct credit arrangement.


They still do not necessarily sound legit to me.

A scammer can very well tell you to enter your data on the company's website, and that would not mean the scammer has any connection with the real company. A scammer would ask you to do that just to keep you distracted for a couple of weeks. Did their emails come from the company's website as Enrique asked you?

If the emails actually came from the company's website, from what you say, for a big company with an "impressive looking website", they seem to work in a very sloppy way!

I hope everything turns out well for you.


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 21:30
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Contact them through their website Nov 28, 2013

Miguel Carmona wrote:
They still do not necessarily sound legit to me.

I think the best thing would be to contact them through their website, Chrissie - either via a phone number published there or the "contact" form printed there. If you just say you're checking whether it was them that placed a job with you then they should be able to confirm or deny it very quickly.

Mind you, for me it's a good sign that the email asked you to upload your bank details to the site - that wouldn't help a scammer, who'd be more likely to ask for them in an email.


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Chrissie_H
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:30
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I seems okay Nov 29, 2013

Yes, it looks like the email addresses and the website all match up, so it's probably okay. Thanks very much for all your advice! I think the company may just be a new start-up, so lots of things don't look professional yet. If I have any problems with them I'll definitely let people know on PROZ.

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Miguel Carmona  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 13:30
English to Spanish
Diverting collecting attempts in somebody else's direction Nov 29, 2013

Sheila Wilson wrote:

Miguel Carmona wrote:
They still do not necessarily sound legit to me.

I think the best thing would be to contact them through their website, Chrissie - either via a phone number published there or the "contact" form printed there. If you just say you're checking whether it was them that placed a job with you then they should be able to confirm or deny it very quickly.

Mind you, for me it's a good sign that the email asked you to upload your bank details to the site - that wouldn't help a scammer, who'd be more likely to ask for them in an email.


It would definitely help the scammer, since he already has the translation (i.e., the merchandise, the goods, the saleable stuff) in his hands, and he would be diverting Chrissie's collecting attempts in a direction other than his own.

Fortunately, from what Chrissie says, apparently the emails seem to come from the real company's website, let's now hope this company turns out to be a good client for Chrissie.

[Edited at 2013-11-29 17:17 GMT]


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Helena Chavarria  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 22:30
Member (2011)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Not everyone's bad Nov 30, 2013

Sheila Wilson wrote:

As for the remarks Tomás makes, I agree with everything he says except that some very good clients just don't send POs so you could be missing out on some very lucrative business by refusing all non-PO jobs outright. I find I get a real sense of what companies are like from early email/phone exchanges. Just make sure the first invoice isn't too big - you're testing them just as much as they're testing you.


A Spanish agency that is not on the Blue Board contacted me a couple of months ago offering me work; because I've had one bad experience (a urgent weekend job for someone who said they were in Peru) and I've read so much about other people's negative experiences, I asked the agency for a PO. They were surprised at my request and even seemed a bit annoyed with me, taking it as an insult, so I decided to cross my fingers, trust them and do the translation, which I remember was quite lengthy (over 10,000 words I think).

Anyway, since then I haven't stopped working for them and everything's going really well, including the payments

Some people are as legal as we are





[Edited at 2013-11-30 21:16 GMT]


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clairemcn
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:30
Member (2013)
French to English
+ ...
Why expect trust without giving any information? Dec 23, 2013

Helena Chavarria wrote:

Sheila Wilson wrote:

As for the remarks Tomás makes, I agree with everything he says except that some very good clients just don't send POs so you could be missing out on some very lucrative business by refusing all non-PO jobs outright. I find I get a real sense of what companies are like from early email/phone exchanges. Just make sure the first invoice isn't too big - you're testing them just as much as they're testing you.


A Spanish agency that is not on the Blue Board contacted me a couple of months ago offering me work; because I've had one bad experience (a urgent weekend job for someone who said they were in Peru) and I've read so much about other people's negative experiences, I asked the agency for a PO. They were surprised at my request and even seemed a bit annoyed with me, taking it as an insult, so I decided to cross my fingers, trust them and do the translation, which I remember was quite lengthy (over 10,000 words I think).

Anyway, since then I haven't stopped working for them and everything's going really well, including the payments

Some people are as legal as we are





[Edited at 2013-11-30 21:16 GMT]


Glad it all worked out, but it seems really unreasonable to get annoyed with you for asking for a PO. Surely nobody would be too confident about taking on a lengthy translation from an agency with no Blue Board entry...they could have been anybody.


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