If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Scams are on the rise, and the language industry is no exception.
Fake Check Scams
If an entity unknown to you wants to pay you by check, beware! There are a number of check scams involving fake checks. The Federal Trade Commission has a good explanation on scams involving fraudulent checks.
Recently, identity and CV theft has been on the rise in the language industry. The Translator Scammers Directory contains some detailed information on this topic.
Knowledge Is the Best Defense
NCTA Board members Peg Flynn and Carola Berger published an article with more information on scams and preventative measures in the Spring 2017 edition of Translorial, the NCTA publication for members. The article can be accessed after logging in to the members-only area. Carola Berger recently published an article in the July/August 2018 edition of The ATA Chronicle, expanding further on the topic. The online version of the article can be accessed here.
NCTA Webmaster Carola Berger presented a webinar on July 9th, 2020, on the topic of Don’t Fall for It: Scams Targeting Language Professionals. The webinar is available for free, on demand, at this URL.
The American Translators Assocation has more information and a list of resources here.
NCTA also offers a 25% discount off the regular subscription price of the Payment Practices list.
The NCTA Ethics Chair is also available in case of further questions. Please be advised, however, that the NCTA Ethics Chair has no recourse to intervene in issues or disputes that involve people or entities that are not NCTA members.
Scam Alert – How to tell if an inquiry is a scam
- Is it too good to be true?
It is a scam, trash it.
If somebody you don’t know wants to pay twice your usual rate without haggling and it’s not something super-urgent, super-specialized that they need immediately (rush rate!), it IS too good to be true. The entire global economy is struggling, so nobody wants to pay more than absolutely necessary right now.
- Is it a “job offer,” i.e. offering full-time or part-time employment and you are located in CA?
Unless it’s for a very specialized job that is urgently needed in light of Covid-19, such as medical interpreters or delivery truck drivers, it’s a scam, trash it.
The entire world is by now aware of AB5, so people are wary to hire employees in California and possibly trigger an audit by the CA EDD. Given that most factories that don’t produce medical equipment or other much needed items are closed world-wide, it is highly unlikely that anybody is hiring now.
- Did you receive an email? Does the from address match the reply-to address in URL and is the URL a reputable known URL?
If the reply-to is a free gmail, hotmail or other free email address, it’s a scam, toss it.
If the reply-to has the same URL after the @ sign including the .com, .de, .us etc., it may just be directly routed to a person working from home. I.e. the email is from hr @ company.com, but the reply-to reads John.Doe @ company.com, it is probably legit, unless the company.com server has been hacked. To check an URL, i.e. how long it has been registered etc., go to https://lookup.icann.org and type in the URL. Thanks to data privacy laws, you won’t see the actual registrar information anymore, but it’ll tell you how long the URL has been registered. Scammers sometimes set up new URLs for scam purposes. So if the URL is relatively new, while that’s not an indicator of a scam in and of itself, be alert.
- Did you receive a phone call? Does the phone number match the phone number given on the company website?
Ask if you can call them back at the number given on their website. If they say no, it’s a scam.
It’s super-easy to spoof (imitate/impersonate) a “from” email address. It’s also super-easy to spoof a phone number. I once received a phone call from my own phone number and I know I didn’t call myself – duh! Always hang up, verify the phone number on the company website and call back. Or email back. Some companies may have forgotten to set a forwarding for their business phones to people’s personal phones before the shelter-in-place lockdowns, but everybody should have access to their company email address at home.
- Does the person refer to their Facebook or LinkedIn or Xing profile as verification?
Check whether that profile and the given contact information matches the contact information on the company website that you verified already (see step 3). If it doesn’t match, it’s a scam.
It is super-easy to set up fake profiles on LinkedIn and claim to be an employee of another company. Even if that company is aware of the false employment claim, it takes a long while for LinkedIn to react.
- Do they invite you to an “interview” on Google Hangouts?
It most likely is a scam.
The scammers try to extract personally identifying information via this interview for the purposes of identity theft. While some reputable businesses indeed use video interviews for hiring and contracting purposes, they almost always use a more secure platform (Zoom, GotoWebinar, etc.).