SS# required on contract to take a test?
Thread poster: S. D.
S. D.  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:54
English to Japanese
Oct 8, 2010

I received an email from this agency in the US although I did not apply for their job or bid any job that they offer. He who claims that he is a linguist coordinator says his company is looking for translator and asked me if I want to take a test. I checked the company's homepage and determined it is legitimate. They require me to sign on the contract BEFORE I take a test. I read the contract and understand that it already includes some terms about the test, so I know why I need to sign on it before I take test. However, the thing I do not understand is that they ask me to give my Social Security # on the contract. To me it does not make sense to give my SS# BEFORE I pass the test and accept their job. I have never encountered such a contract which requires me to give SS# BEFORE the test. I told him that I will be glad to sign on the contract without my SS# now and I can give my SS# after I pass the test and start working on their assignments. He has not replied yet so far. After this, I got suspicious about this company, so I checked their Blue Board status and I found an alert stating that this outsourcer is banned from posting a job at Proz.com. Has anyone encountered such a thing? Do you think this is scam? I probably will not work for them to play it safe but I was wondering if it is standard custom to give SS# BEFORE you even take a test and start working. It sounds fishy to me. Thank you in advance for reading this and sharing your thoughts and experience.

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Natalie  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 11:54
Member (2002)
English to Russian
+ ...

MODERATOR
Hi Oct 8, 2010

There is nothing fishy there; their independent contractor agreement contains the line: SS# (if contractor is US resident). In any case, if you are not sure if you would pass the test, do not fill in this line now. You will be able to send them this afterwards.

Natalia


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shfranke  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:54
English to Arabic
+ ...
Do NOT provide your SS# under such circumstances Oct 9, 2010

Greetings.

Bottom line up front: [1] That situation smells most suspiciously. [2] Do NOT comply.

May I suggest, and in strongest terms, that you do NOT provide your SS#, especially under such wobbly and untimely circumstances.

Firstly, that firm has no reasonable or defensible basis to require you to furnish such information, especially since you are under no contractual, employment, or similar legal obligation to that firm under which color you would have to provide such data, such as being processed for granting of a US Government personnel security clearance and the like.

Secondly, that firm has not mentioned, and you might well ask that firm for clarification and details, of its "safeguard" measures in current effect to protect your personal data once you have submitted that.

By supplying that critical item of your "personal identification information" ("PII" in "US Government-speak"), you are exposing yourself to identity theft and identity fraud.

Hope this helps.

Regards,

Stephen H. Franke
San Pedro, California


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S. D.  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:54
English to Japanese
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks! Oct 9, 2010

Thank you for your suggestion. The fact that this outsourcer was banned from Proz made me think there might be something fishy. Thanks for your time and help.

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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:54
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Same situation several times in the past Oct 9, 2010

Indeed this happens. There are also companies out there who even ask you to sign documents before discussing a potential rate, so you end up signing all sorts of NDAs and things before establishing whether a relationship can exist. After signing contracts and doing tests for work I did not finally get because of my rates, I now offer to sign any documents after the test and after a proper rate discussion. If they are OK with that, we go ahead. If not, I wish them lots of luck!

This is just your decision: If you don't want to sign the contract or give your SS# before the test, tell them so. If they are reasonable, they surely understand that you don't want to give sensitive information or sign contracts even before it is established whether a relationship can exist based on the results of the test. And if they are not reasonable... do you want them as customers?

[Edited at 2010-10-09 06:50 GMT]


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:54
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Contracts Oct 9, 2010

The problem with contracts is that they are binding. One should be VERY careful and think twice before signing contracts.

Unfortunately there is this trend in translation agencies to force translators to sign all sorts of things. They say it is just because of their ISO certification or utter a whole range of other reasons, but the fact is that we should only sign the contracts we agree with, basically because they will be enforced from the moment we sign them.

I strongly recommend everyone to carefully read all these contracts we get sent, think twice whether their clauses are acceptable, and only sign them after proper discussion and ammendment of the parts we don't agree with.

Signing contracts just as a first step of a negotiation process is plain foolish! Before you know if, when and how much work you will get from the customer, you will be bound to a ton of obligations even years after the termination of the contract!


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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:54
English to German
+ ...
Indeed. Oct 9, 2010

Stephen Franke wrote:

Greetings.

Bottom line up front: [1] That situation smells most suspiciously. [2] Do NOT comply.

May I suggest, and in strongest terms, that you do NOT provide your SS#, especially under such wobbly and untimely circumstances.

Firstly, that firm has no reasonable or defensible basis to require you to furnish such information, especially since you are under no contractual, employment, or similar legal obligation to that firm under which color you would have to provide such data, such as being processed for granting of a US Government personnel security clearance and the like.

Secondly, that firm has not mentioned, and you might well ask that firm for clarification and details, of its "safeguard" measures in current effect to protect your personal data once you have submitted that.

By supplying that critical item of your "personal identification information" ("PII" in "US Government-speak"), you are exposing yourself to identity theft and identity fraud.

Hope this helps.

Regards,

Stephen H. Franke
San Pedro, California




I am stunned by the fact how lightheartedly this issue is judged by non-US citizens. Please note that I am not addressing the posters on this thread in particular - this issue has been discussed for many years in this forum and apparently I have to repeat myself over and over. Yet it is usually non-Americans who shrug their shoulders.
Please note that in the US not even your own bank is allowed to ask you for your SSN over the phone or via email. An SSN is not a mere number in a passport - it is your entire identity. We have other means of identification.


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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:54
English to German
+ ...
Addendum Oct 9, 2010

Aside from the fact that the company's description sounds all too familiar to me (good grief...): Have you ever asked your doctor, your lawyer or similar for his/her SSN? Why exactly should you as a business that happens to provide linguistic services be required to provide such information?

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S. D.  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:54
English to Japanese
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks to everyone Oct 9, 2010

I would like to say THANK YOU to everyone who read my posting and replied to me sharing your experience and offering suggestions. When it comes to our personal information, it is very important to be on the safe side all the time, I know, and I never provide my SS# for nothing. I am still a baby in this business, so I need to be extra careful and I fell thankful that many professionals like you all could help me with good suggestions. In fact, he does not reply to my email so this tells something suspicious already. It just amazes me that company like this big name is treating freelancers like this.... I hope all tranlsators will be careful. Thank you again

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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:54
English to German
+ ...
Here's the thing: Oct 9, 2010

spockally wrote:

I would like to say THANK YOU to everyone who read my posting and replied to me sharing your experience and offering suggestions. When it comes to our personal information, it is very important to be on the safe side all the time, I know, and I never provide my SS# for nothing. I am still a baby in this business, so I need to be extra careful and I fell thankful that many professionals like you all could help me with good suggestions. In fact, he does not reply to my email so this tells something suspicious already. It just amazes me that company like this big name is treating freelancers like this.... I hope all tranlsators will be careful. Thank you again


There is nothing wrong with the fact that any US-based outsourcer might ask you for your FEIN (or, if you are not a registered business, your SSN). This information is required by the IRS for all freelancers to which payments were made exceeding US $ 600.00 during the current year.

In this case a tax form will be sent to you, and you will be asked to state your FEIN or SSN and to provide your signature. At the end of the year the outsourcer will send you a neat summary of all the amounts paid which you can use for your taxes.

To ask for such highly sensitive information before you even entered a business relationship is moronic and plain rude. Factory-style. No, thanks.


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S. D.  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:54
English to Japanese
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you, Nicole Oct 9, 2010

Nicole, thank you for clarifying about that. Yes, I was aware of the fact that the company will report to IRS about my earnings and they need my SS# to furnish the information. I even told the coorodinator that I understand the company needs SS# for this reason and I can provide it AFTER I recieve actual assignments, but he does not reply.... Strange?!
The point that you mentioned really makes sense: they do not need to ask my SS# BEFORE I have business with them. I thought giving SS# just to take a test does not make sense. Thank you again, Nicole, for your help. Your opinion is always sharp and helpful!


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