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:

screen-shot-2016-12-17-at-1-10-54-pm

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!

Other Ways

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!

Now, if you’re a non-scammer, looking for a writer, contact me today.