Filling out W9 for unknown agencies
Thread poster: Mariana Rodriguez

Mariana Rodriguez  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:52
English to Spanish
+ ...
Jul 8, 2014

I am fairly new to the Freelance world and one of the challenges I am encountering is trusting emails and communications I get from "alleged" Translation agencies. I am always afraid that it might be a scam and I feel specially cautious to send important information such as social security number when required to fill out W9 forms.

Even though I don't reply to certain emails that are obviously suspicious (lots of misspells, no contact information, no project specifics, etc), I am wondering if I will miss many opportunities because of the tendency to think it could be a scam.

Any words of advice or opinions in this matter will be appreciated.


Kevin Fulton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:52
German to English
Use the telephone Jul 8, 2014

There are very simple steps to protect yourself in the US.

Any legitimate agency should be willing to provide you a street address and telephone number. In most cities in the US, you should be able to use Google street view to see whether the address provided is an office building, an empty lot or a junkyard. A call to a real agency should be answered professionally, not with just "hello."

There is no need to fill out a W-9 until a job is offered.


Michelle Kusuda  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:52
English to Spanish
+ ...
Get an EIN number. Jul 8, 2014

Get an EIN number. It takes seconds to get one! Never share your SSN over email!


Danik 2014
German to Portuguese
+ ...
Be careful what you share on line and read useful articles on Proz Jul 9, 2014

Be very careful what information you share on line, check out the customer´s page, read the Proz articles on the subject and visit the customer´s evaluation forum whenever you get an offer
This might interest you:
Danik 2014


Thayenga  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:52
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
A helpful "tool" Jul 9, 2014

Hi Mariana,

aside from the tips provided by our colleagues, here's a link to a valuable website that helps you to identify possible scammers.

Stay safe!


Katalin Horváth McClure  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:52
Member (2002)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
But, but... Jul 10, 2014

A client would only need your W9 if you already worked for them, and they have paid you, and if the sum of their payment for the year was over the limit the IRS specifies for issuing 1099 forms. (Currently it is $600, I think.)
So, if anybody asks for your W9 before they paid for your first invoice, just ignore it, don't send it, tell them you will send it after you got your payment.
If you already completed work and got paid OK, then you probably have enough evidence to judge them legit.


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Filling out W9 for unknown agencies

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