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Topic: Freelancers - Questions about Safety regarding Contracts for Telecommunica

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Subject: Freelancers - Questions about Safety regarding Contracts for Telecommunica
Date Posted: 5/14/2008 11:57 AM ET
Member Since: 1/7/2008
Posts: 413
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Hey everyone!  I have been writing for ages and have a degree in english and writing but was too busy being a new mom for several years to get my writing career of and running.  I recently applied for and recieved offers for a few writing gigs that are all contract jobs but the whole process of hiring and the job itself is done entirely via telecommunications - and in some cases, I havne't even spoken with people over the phone.

I have a few jobs i'm working on now, one of which NEVER asked for my Tax ID (which is my Social Security number) and instead used my Driver's license number on the contract.  The other job asked for the SS# (tax id) and suspiciously dropped off the face of the earth after I signed the contract.

Suspecting Fraud, I contacted my local police department who is currently investigating and then went through the rigamarol of putting fraudalerts on my credit report!  A real pain! 

SOOO here's my question: When you are signing contracts for jobs that are all telecommuting and you don't meet someone in person at an office, how do you protect yourself besides just gut instincts?  I mean, do even LEGITIMATE employers ask for SS# for contract signing??  OR will Driver's License numbers suffice (or is even that dangerous???) until tax time rolls around?

Thoughts? I really want to continue getting work, but I don't want to put myself at risk

Last Edited on: 5/14/08 11:59 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 5/22/2008 12:21 PM ET
Member Since: 1/29/2007
Posts: 3,365
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I probably wouldn't sign any contracts with a company I had not heard of or at least have some offline contact with. A lot of the stuff advertised out there on the net is fraud so look out for it. I know people who have been burned by this - either identity theft or by not being paid for work done and the company has disappeared, so I would want a bit of assurance that I would get paid. If it is a company totally unknown to you, I would research them over the internet and attempt to call them to verify that it is a legitimate company. Or ask the hiring manager to contact you. If it is an individual needing work done for a small business or something like that, I would also just request that they call you at least once before you begin work. I've mostly done freelance work for companies and people I already know and would be very cautious about someone I did not know.

Generally, a company will need your social security number for tax purposed, but depending on how payment works they not need it until after the work is completed or you bill them.  If they are hiring you as a "remote" or "telecommuting" *employee*, they will need it in advance. If it is a freelance job and you are considered "self-employed*,  and being paid by them for work done it is OK for them to wait for the ID number, but they may want it in advance as a matter of company policy. I have never heard of it being OK to just have the DL number... that's kind of odd.

Date Posted: 6/4/2008 4:10 PM ET
Member Since: 1/7/2008
Posts: 413
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Thanks so much for your help!