Whether you are a translation client or a translation service provider, your identity is at risk of being stolen by translation identity thieves. Stolen client information is used by these scammers to dupe unsuspecting translators into offering services that are not paid for. The scam can go further where the translator loses money and reputation.
For the translators, their stolen identity is used to swindle unsuspecting clients of their money only to be presented with shoddily translated work.
Whether you are a client or a translator, how can you protect your identity against theft by internet scammers?
- One of the ways scammers steal identification details is through resume download. They easily make changes and use it as their own. To protect your resume never send it in an editable format such as in a Word document. Always do that as a read-only password protected PDF.
- Avoid posting very personal details about yourself unless it is legally necessary to do so. This includes exact birth date and place of birth. It is not a must to fill in verification information on social media where you give details of say, your first pet’s name, maiden name of your mother or childhood friend’s nickname. Identity thieves can use this to make changes to your personal details.
- Understand telltale signs that suggest an imposter is targeting you. These includes:
- Communication through free email accounts such as Yahoo, Gmail, Hotmail and others.
- Poor grammar and/or spelling
- Conflicting information in the same email
- Different source email address and the one given at the end of the mail as the contact address.
- Usually there is no physical contact address
- Always confirm whether the email you receive has also been sent out to others. If so, this is a definite give-away sign that you are in a thief’s radar.
- Always be wary of unknown contacts who ask for personal details that you feel are not necessary for transacting the business at hand.
- Establish your email address through your own domain name. Unless the scammer hacks your account, it’s almost impossible for the imposter to impersonate you. When using free accounts such as Yahoo or Gmail, all that the thief needs to do is create an account that almost resembles yours.
- If you are a freelance translator, work with companies that guarantee your personal data protection.
- Protect your computer against attacks. Although many translation-related thieves are out to get one-time-off jobs from each stolen identity victim and therefore may not be willing to go into a lot of difficulties, information stolen from your computer can end up in the wrong hands anywhere. Some steps to ensure you are safe include:
- Always have your firewall protection on.
- Have a reliable up to date anti-virus program that keeps you fully protected on- and offline.
- Avoid free software from questionable sources. This at time downloads spyware and other adware that can be used to steal information from your computer.
- Use strong passwords
- Password-protect folders containing sensitive files such as your resume/CV, birth information and others.
- Always keep your personal information under lock and key and never leave them easily accessible.
- If making photocopies of your resume or other personal information documents in a public place, always ask for any spoilt copies and shred or burn yourself them later.
- Trust your gut. If something feels wrong about a translation job, investigate further.
A determined identity thief will always look for a way to breach your layers of protection. Yours is to make it as difficult as possible; if not impossible.