How to avoid translation scams is a question that occupies many translators’ mind. The industry is not spared from this vice and so every translator must be vigilant to be safe.
How Translation Scams Work
One of the main aims of these con artists is to get the resume/CV of a reputable translator. From these, they make some changes that a client may not immediately note to be a ‘doctored’ document. With such a CV or resume, they impersonate another translator and get hired for translation jobs they are not qualified for. In this case the client who hires them pays and gets shoddy translation work.
Another method is when translation scammers impersonate clients and place an order to an unsuspecting translator. Here the scammer usually gets away with free work and money from the unfortunate translator. This is usually after the translator has submitted the finished work, sent back ‘overpaid’ money to the scammer and getting fined by the bank for depositing a ‘bouncing’ check (from the scammer).
All these start by the scammer stealing identity information from genuine translators (to be used against unsuspecting client) and also from genuine clients to be used against genuine translators.
How to Identify Translation Scams
- Email address. In almost all cases, the scammer uses a free account such as Yahoo, Hotmail or Gmail. Many genuine clients or translators use these accounts. However, when combined with other factors discussed below, it should raise the translators’/clients’ suspicion index. Genuine clients in most cases use corporate or business accounts.
- The email is usually written in poor grammar.
- The email lacks good communication etiquette such as a salutation. A closer look reveals that the email is sent through blind carbon copy (Bcc) which is a popular tactic used by scammers to send out mass email.
- There is no contact information apart from the free account email and maybe a phone number. In some cases, the contact email address given in the email is not the same as the one used to send the email.
- The name given as the clients/translators is a common general name that even if searched online will give unhelpful results.
How to Protect Yourself Against Translation Scams
- Confirm who is contacting you. Do this by investigating the domain name through www.whois.net and then confirm the IP address of the source of inquiry. The American Translation Association (ATA) has a detailed document on how to do this.
- Become a member of forums that discuss various payment methods that different agencies use. Two of these are The Payment Practice database and Translation Agencies Business Practices LinkedIn Group
- Don’t post personal details online unless obligated to do so by law. In most cases very personal details are not needed to transact online business.
- Avoid using free email accounts as they are an easier target for scammers. Register your own domain name.
- Always send your CV or resume in PDF format. Go a step further and password-protect the document against any editing. Doing this prevents the scammer from making any changes to the document or even copy-pasting it.
- Regularly refer to the Translator Scammers Directory where you will find a frequently updated list of scammers in this industry.
- When the person contacting you claims to be from a certain company, look up the company and call their office and ask to speak to that person.
In summary translation scammers’ aim is to:
- Steal your identity
- Steal your money
- Steal your translation work
- Steal all of the above when and if they can.