If you work as an online freelancer, you might have seen the problem already. If you haven’t, I want to make sure you’re aware.
Scammers are targeting freelancers. In particular, if you work from Upwork.
How it Can Happen
- A scammer posing as a client posts a new job on Upwork. They’ll keep their job description short and say something like “see attachment for more information”. That attachment has a macro that will insert a virus on your computer.
- A scammer posing as a client posts a new job on Upwork. The job description is complete, so you apply. You get asked to talk to them on Skype, but first, they send you the payment details in a document. You open that document and the macro sets a virus on your computer.
Life is Hard Already
It’s hard enough being your own boss, running a business, but now we have to watch out for scammers trying to steal our information?! Rude!
Most of my clients are local, so I rarely go to Upwork. When I do, luckily I have my Microsoft products set to not allow macros to run, I have a Mac, and I have virus protection on my computer, but it’s not a great day to see notices like this:
How to Stay Safe
- Set up your Microsoft programs to NOT allow macros to be opened without telling you first. So for those of us with MACs, that’s the Word/Preferences/Security and making sure to select “Warn before opening a file with macros”.
- Put a virus protection software on your computer! Avast has a free version.
- Change your passwords that you use for everything – at least every three months. And make sure to use a pass phrase. So, instead of using something like “password” use the first letter of each word of a phrase like My Sweet Dog Jagg Eight My Homework! = MSDJ8MH!
I know that from now on I won’t be opening attachments unless the client has specific reasons for having something in a separate document. The notice above – my gut was telling me that something was off.
They had sent a word doc with some explanation of the job, but then they had payment information in a different document, in a file that was rare, while they had already given me payment information in Upwork. At that point, I told the client “Have a nice day” and didn’t try to open it. I’m glad I moved on!
So, trust the gut!
I’m Sonja Dewing. I’m published author of Toy of the Gods and other stories available on Amazon and I’m always seeking adventure. I’m a Social Media Manager and consult with writers on creativity and social media.