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Staying Safe on oDesk

oDesk strives to keep our marketplace safe and would like to remind our users of important safety practices.

Safety Tips:

- Never accept payment outside of oDesk, especially if you are asked to receive payment and send a portion back to a different account. Do not start working for a client until you have been hired through the system.

- When clicking any link, you should be wary of scams that try to steal your login information. These scams are known as "phishing" because they "fish" for your information. Be careful about clicking links, and check the URL before entering your username and password. Also, be very careful about creating an account on a site from a user you don't trust. If you must create an account on an unfamiliar site, use a different password than other online accounts, especially your email and oDesk account.

- If it's too good to be true, it probably is. If someone is hiring you without an interview or offers you a high hourly rate or high fixed payment, without a detailed interview, take the appropriate precautions to ensure they are legitimate by asking for a phone call and for more details on their business.

- If you believe your account may be compromised, change the PW on your oDesk account and email address.

How to report a suspicious behavior:

oDesk has a team that is available 24/7 to assist with security related issues. If you believe you may have encountered a scam or believe you have had your account compromised, please contact oDesk support to report the activity.

Ron Aquino
oDesk Trust and Safety

Vote Result

Score: 8.7, Votes: 177
decent summary.

decent summary.


Thanks Ron for the tips!

Another way to stay safe on ODesk is to complete your profile.

Untoward employers looking for an easy target pick contractors that appear vulnerable. If you don't have a portfolio, basic information about yourself, job or education history then genuine employers just wont hire you.

Who does that leave?

Thanks for the tips, but . . .

Hi Ron,

Thanks for the tips Ron.

I just need to ask something. When we take on an hourly project - payment is guaranteed - right? I was hired recently by an employer who invited me to the job. He just asked me how many articles I can write in a day and I was told to start anytime I was ready. I thought that was a little strange - he had no further questions and he didn't complain about my hourly rate. Still, he was "payment method verified" so, I thought everything will be fine.

When I checked what was going on in the team 2 or 3 days later, I was surprised to see that he had hired 47 contractors! But I had other tasks at the time, so, I still did not start work. After about 5 days, I started work. After finishing just 1 article, I took a break but when I got back I couldn't log in to the team. I didn't receive any notification from oDesk about this job but when I checked under "My Jobs," I found out that the job was suspended. Normally, I would just wait for the contract to resume but I decided to contact support.

What I noticed is that the oDesk rep took longer than usual to answer my questions. But here is his answer to my first question: "I have reviewed the Client's account. I can see that this Client has been permanently suspended for policy violations. Unfortunately, this contract can no longer be resumed. We can end the contract on your behalf if you wish, however I suggest to stop working with the Client as they are permanently suspended."

I was stunned. I asked why, he said, "I cannot share the particulars of their suspension, however this Client has been suspended permanently for multiple violations of policy, and can no longer be resumed."

When I asked about whether the team will be paid for hours billed, he said, "We cannot guarantee payment for hours logged due to policy violation in this case, however please make sure to check your financial history page on Thursday for the payment, as it may go through on Thursday. Would you like for us to go ahead and close this Contract on your behalf?"

Since I had only billed less than an hour - I told them to go ahead and end the contract - which they did. My question is - how about the other contractors who had already put in 40 to 50+ hours? As far as I know only one other contractor has ended her contract. But there are 45 others. I guess everything will be fine IF they get paid but what would stop payment to go through? Are the other members of the team even aware that the contract has been "suspended permanently?" Please take note that I never received any notification. I just decided to contact support and ask questions - and that's how I found out.

I am confused by the rep's statement about payment that cannot be guaranteed "due to policy violation in this case."

I thought taking hourly projects meant our payment was guaranteed. Can you explain how this could have happened?

Thank you.


Payment is only guaranteed if ODesk can obtain payment.

Sounds like the client has done the dirty.

Verifying Client Accounts

I'm 99% positive that I'm being scammed. How do I verify a client's account?

You don't "verify a client's account" - it either is, or is not

Elizabeth Turner wrote:
I'm 99% positive that I'm being scammed. How do I verify a client's account?

You don't, Elizabeth. You look at the client's status, where it will say that their account is either verified or not.

Can I make a suggestion? Post a new post in the contractor area and explain awhat your problem is. Why do you think you are being scammed, what has happened so far (please don't include any links to job posts or names of clients etc) and we'll see if we can help.

Were you officially hired? Is it an hourly or a fixed price contract? Is the contract in your "My Jobs" list?

This is not the best thread to discuss individual problemss, so starting your own would be your best bet.


Take a look at the profile and you'll see exactly what the problem is Sad

This sounds awful.

The way the TOS reads, it sounds like payment is guaranteed, no matter what, if the Team Room is used. Seems that if they offer this guarantee, oDesk should pay up if the client is suspended. This doesn't sound right at all, and I really feel bad for all those people working for nothing.

It is not the contractor's fault if the client violates policy.

That is correct. Even if a

That is correct. Even if a client gets suspended, oDesk guarantees payment to our contractors on hourly work logged through oDesk Team. This is our safety mechanism for contractors and something we take very seriously.

The only time this guarantee does not apply, is when we detect a contractor abusing the guarantee or other serious policy infractions. While I can't get into specific details around our security process, if you as a contractor are billing legitimate hours and truly working for a client, you should never worry about the guarantee not applying to your work.

I hope that helps.


So, what did the other oDesk employee mean?

Yes, Ron. I understand what you mean. Thank you.

But this is not a case involving a contractor abusing the guarantee - it's the client/employer abusing - only oDesk knows what.

But why did the other oDesk rep say, "We cannot guarantee payment for hours logged due to policy violation in this case?" You also said, "The only time this guarantee does not apply, is when we detect a contractor abusing the guarantee or other serious policy infractions."

What if the "serious policy infractions" were committed by the employer? Where does that leave contractors?

There is still a glimmer of hope that the contractors in my team may still get paid. But I would just like to clarify what the statement of the other rep meant. I just need to know if contractors working on hourly projects will still get paid even if the employer violated the TOS.

It sounds like Odesk has to pay

if the hours were all logged properly. Otherwise, that guarantee is meaningless. If the client has scarpered without payment, I assume it is Odesk's responsibility to try and recover the money, which it certainly has the resources to do.


Wow, am I so glad I didn't accept that guy's offer! He also didn't comment on my hourly rate (which is less than yours but definitely more than what a lot of contractors charge), but when I saw the number of hires, it sent a red flag, which didn't really make sense to me then since it was hourly work and supposed to be guaranteed. Now I know why!

Good for you

Good for you Aleah.

Unfortunately, I was one of the first 10 or so to respond and get hired. I didn't think too much about it then because I've been part of oDesk teams that had 15 to 20 members because they were big projects. But maybe if I had seen the invitation a little later and found out that he had hired more than 20 or 30, I probably would not have accepted.

Still, it was a good thing I was caught up in the middle of another task when I got the invitation and I was only able to put in less than an hour of work. I just hope the team will be paid for hours worked because the others have put in a lot of hours.


i am new to this oDesk how to use it

Same team!!!!

OMG, Grace! I recognize you from the job posting. Unfortunately, I am one of the team members that this creep hired. I have logged about 10 hours over the last two weeks. The contract was suspended last Wednesday and come Friday I receive a notice that my financial account was suspended too. Last Wednesday I sent a message to the employer asking what happened, he mentioned something about making a mistake on filling up tax forms but that he was hopeful that the contract will be reactivated by Monday as he was taking care of the paperwork.

You know as well as I do at the time of hiring, this creep had a verified payment method. I went back again to the job posting and it now shows that his payment method is unverified. I was thinking that this should be a clear case for the guaranteed payment that oDesk is so proud about but as you can see, it seems that it's something they can;t substantiate.

I just want my account unsuspended so I can make a withdrawal and pay for my bills. I have contacted support requesting for many updates but I now believe they have taken a vow of silence or something because except for automated messages--- NOTHING!

And at the time I was hired, there were no more than five writers on the time, which is fine because I have worked on bigger projects. As for my hourly rate, I have had clients willing to pay for that too, so really, I don't think I did anything wrong. I just wish someone from oDesk will talk to me and help me straighten this out because really, the reason I work at home is because I'm a single mom-- I'm not a pampered brat who does this for lack of anything better to do!!! To say that I am frustrated and anxious is an understatement.

What happened

Hi joana, i noticed from the forum that you were one of many contractors whose financial accounts got suspended due to dirty deeds of clients. Unfortunately, im now experiencing what you have experienced. My financial account was suspended last friday here in the philippines and odesk asked me where did i meet the employer and what work am i doing for him, and then i answered back honestly. I believe you also undergone such bad experience. Could you help me out? I also bet odesk asked you the same questions. How long did it take you to have your account back and withdraw savings? Its kinda annoying that bcoz of this specific client, i cannot even withdraw earnings that are not from him but from other clients ive worked for.

Pls advise me! Thanks a lot.

Beware of Conmen on Odesk

There are fake clients on oDesk. They will give you work posting great pay for the jobs done only to steal from you. One such client has the name **-uses different user names to corner unsuspecting writers. They will offer odesk and Paypal options of payment but will never send you the money. Either they use a wrong address or come up with an excuse for not paying you. I wish Odesk had a way of fishing them out-unfortunately, they use different user names to be detected.

**"Removed by admin"

Another tip, and I hope Ron A. Can Weigh In-

My current policy is to keep communication outside of this site to a minimum. oDesk provides us with a hiring platform, to where you can officially be hired, and see that you are hired, and track your time legitimately. Also, while Skype interviews are great to get to know one another, oDesk provides us with a messaging system, complete with the ability to attach files and photos.Use it. Also, I personally view it as a red flag if someone INSISTS On getting you outside of oDesk. Transparency is key, and taking things away from here really removes that transparency for both ends.

Now, I am a computer savvy girl, so I understand if it is coding or web design or something it is likely necessary to use other platforms, as oDesk message center might be insufficient. However, if you are using email, you can use this. It is essentially the same thing. Documents can be shared in Google documents or Evernote, and messages can be shared here. The closer you stay to oDesk, the better, more legitimate trail you have if something goes wrong. It could mean the difference between a he said/she said situation and having a legitimate trail to prove it is the other person scamming and violating TOS. Just some food for thought.

Payment guaranteed

Okay, just an update. As of today, my financial account was unsuspended and I was able to make a withdrawal INCLUDING the money owed by the creep client. It seems that oDesk did come through on their payment guarantee for hourly jobs.

So big sigh of relief here. I guess they have established that I am not in cahoots with this Ricky McCoy to abuse the payment guarantee policy. I can only hope that the other team members have been paid as well, because when I last checked, there was more than $10,000 already charged for the two weeks that this client has been mass-hiring.

Looking back, the fact that this client barely got in touch regarding my articles should have been a red flag. Usually, clients who are willing to pay my hourly rate are looking for someone well above average and they are really hands-on with the project.

I have had new oDesk users invite me to jobs at my hourly rate, and with this exception, all have worked out well. But getting burned like this will really make me more suspicious from now on.

I am glad you got your money.

Like I said upthread getting burned is what got me over to the forums. After reading, I realized that this marketplace is nothing but a free for all, and such a situation is ripe for scamming. I was personally very naive about this, but the more jobs I got, and the more people I talked to, and, most of all, the more I read in the forums makes me realize that sometimes you just have to limit certain things to minimize risk. I'd rather forego a job offer that seems fishy in order to not get scammed or, worse, have my oDesk account flagged for being linked to any shady happenings on here.

I honestly think something needs to be done to provide security as far as fixed price stuff goes, and, furthermore, clients whose payment methods are not verified should not be able to hire ANYONE.

Hi Joanna

Hi Joanna,

Yes, it's a good thing we did get paid. I just hope the others were paid too.

Ricky never responded to the email that I sent him.

This experience has definitely made me more careful in responding to invitations from employers - regardless of their "payment method verified" status.

Shannon . How do you use

Shannon .
How do you use odesk message system to send files back and forth?
As I would like to be able to do juast that?

Use the link

Once you've been awarded the job, there's a link on the message system that allows you to attach files to each respective client.

Some nice points you

Some nice points you made.
Thanks for sharing.

Hey thanks!

Thanks for outlining these. Helps a lot.

I am a newbie, a couple of

I am a newbie, a couple of weeks in here and sill finding my way around. So sad that for my first job I have to lodge a complain for Client's unscrupulous behavior. Sad

Safety before appliying a job

In few days back I read a job in which client asked to open 100 new account. On going through the details, I find that client can use these account for security threat & do not apply. For safety reason there should be some comment while marking a job inappropriate.

Beware of bogus job postings


This is my first comment on the forums! Unfortunately what brings me here is that I almost became a victim of Scammers that seem to be roaming around here. I've applied to a job who asked me to talk with them via Gtalk and provided me a link. I have quite a lot experience on staying safe on the Internet, but they caught me in my 5 minutes of distraction. The link that they provided me was a phishing scam and soon after I entered my Gmail's user and password and less than 10 seconds later I've realized that I may have made a mistake and changed my Gmail password immediately. I regularly use strong and hard to remember passwords, but in this case the Gmail's and Odesk passwords matched (ERROR). Later in the day, I've checked the Odesk page and a message appeared that my financial account was suspended. I contacted Support and told me that they detected a possible security breach on my Odesk account. Fortunately for me, I didn't had any money present or pending on my Odesk account, so the issue was resolved just by sending some information requested by support and a password changed. But, as I look for job here, I started detecting a lot of bogus work ads here, and this is what I've identified so far from them:

- They are poorly redacted, often with grammar and spelling mistakes.
- They are quite vague on the requirements.
- Payment verified is not a safe indicator.
- Previous work with outrageous hourly rates and great feedback aren't a trustworthy indicator, because they may are "hiring" themselves in order to simulate feedback.
- Work offers comes from uncommon places: Middle East, Southwest Asia...
- Very high hourly rates offered in order to attract more unsuspecting Odeskers.

That's what I've seen so far, and they are very common. So, be careful and stay safe!



thanks for the information

oDesk -I Like for secure payments.

oDesk -I Like for secure payments.I will always follow this direction.

Thank you for this. I need

Thank you for this. I need to ask a question though. What do you think about these data entry jobs where a URL is sent with a login and password information. Is this legit?

That's probably a phishing

That's probably a phishing attempt. They give you two urls one for Gmail other for yahoo, once you click and log in they capture your passwords and try to hack your oDesk account. There is a thread on the forums somewhere, Staying Safe from Phishing. Read that for more info and don't click any link or fill any such form.

oDesk Forum Moderator

Always reach for the skies, for even if you fall, you'll still be on the top of the world...

Today I was viewing a job

Today I was viewing a job post. The client has many good feedback and also spent a lot on hiring contractors on oDesk. It was photo manipulation job. He posted a link to the file. When I clink on that link it directly took me to my mail log in screen. Due to my auto fill feature the id and password was automatically filled in by Firefox. But I did not click on the log in button. Whether that was a safe link? if the client has evil motive, whether he captured my password of my email? though I did not click on the login screen.

Pradeep this sounds like a

Pradeep this sounds like a phishing attempt. Report the client to Support asap! And change your passwords just in case, though if you didn't click the link I'm guessing that you are probably safe, but don't take any chances and change passwords to all accounts where you use this or a similar password.

oDesk Forum Moderator

Always reach for the skies, for even if you fall, you'll still be on the top of the world...

Ayesha I clicked on the link

Ayesha I clicked on the link which lead me to my gmail login screen.Due to my auto fill feature of firefox it automatically filled in my id and password box. But I did not clicked on the my login screen. In that case what will happen. I have changed my gmail password.

Like I said, it may or may

Like I said, it may or may not have affected you. So changing passwords is a good precaution and do report the job to oDesk Support so that they can take appropriate action. Plus there's a thread regarding phishing on the forums, please do add your experience there as well so others may be warned.

oDesk Forum Moderator

Always reach for the skies, for even if you fall, you'll still be on the top of the world...

please help this genuine or scam

Dsfdg Hjyty
6:52 pm
This is simple word/image Typing Job with high payment
I will pay you $50 per 1000 word/image typing

Type weekly 7000 entry to get $350 Payment weekly(Monthly $1500)

Follow the Steps to start work
Step 01:
Go to the site/link:

Step 02:
Enter Team Name: mark
Enter User Name: mark2

After entering the site u can see at the top of the browser

Just click on this words to get new working window
In this new window image/code will come and you have to type correctly

Working time:
Best Time: Mid Night & Early Morning(GMT+6)
Best Time: Mid Night & Early Morning(GMT+6)

Normal Time:6pm to 9am(GMT+6)



***Start work right now and Continue work everyday and try to do 7k from next 10days

***I will send your $700 After 7k=7000 entry completed

***Minimum you must do 3k=3000entry to get payment(Must fullfill condition)

***Please send me your payment details to receive payment quickly


i found this in my inbox.please help!!

You do not have to click

You do not have to click 'sumbit' or whatever other name it goes by.
They now have it.

For what we are doing and having to goto different sites posted.

Do not use autofill, nor set browser to remember passwords.

Thanks Joseph for your

Thanks Joseph for your information. I use gmail. I have changed my password and now using two steps verification before log in.

And also checking the IP details and it seems everything is ok.

Do you think still my mail account is unsafe.

They have got it.That was

They have got it.

That was not your email login page.

That was a copy of the login email page hosted on their server.

They took a guess on wheather you used google or yahoo.

Would not have mattered as most of us use both google and yahoo.

So throwing up either one you get trapped.
There are a couple of recent threads around here about that same thing.
Fake login pages.

One more thing, if your new password is sorta like your old one, change it to something else not even close.
Same for Yahoo account, change it because it could be like you old one also.

If you used anything close to your old one, they could easly put a bot at work trying to log into your account.
Doubtfull, but could happen.

Hi AyeshaMy account is

Hi Ayesha
My account is suspended from oDesk because of unusual activity on my account so oDesk suspended my financial account and said to me that i give them My GOV. ID card copy and my mail which i used to create the account on oDesk. I provided them these two things but my account still postponed and i can not withdraw my money. Plz tell me will oDesk open my account and will i withdraw my money.Plz tell me about this.

Women Beware!

There is a client who contacted me for a job and right from the start it seemed questionable. He asked to speak to me via phone (which isn't unheard of on odes) and then proceeded to ask me to meet him to "play pool" I declined (I am not an idiot) and then he continued on about the job and what I would be doing (marketing seo social media) sounded great to me until he then asked if he could come work out of my home? I was baffled! He then asked if he could live here for 6 weeks while his apartment was being fixed! I hung up and reported him immediately... Women who are vulnerable and work from home taking care of your children, be aware there is a huge predator out there!

Your child should not be in your profile picture

oDesk prefers that there are no other people in the profile picture. In this case, on an international job site, where your stated rate is so far below what is needed to survive in your region, you do appear desperate. With your daughter in your profile picture, you have unintentionally set yourself and your child up to be victimized.

I hope oDesk takes these kinds of reports very seriously. The guy should be kicked off, although there is no way to prove your side, as it was on the phone. Google voice allows you to record calls, which would have been useful here. It is free too.

oDesk cannot be expected to protect everyone from themselves. We have to be wise, as a parent, a woman, and as a contractor on an international job site that is full of shady characters.


I totally agree with Robin C.

You pointed out this predator yourself...don't set yourself up to be a further target by leaving your child in the pic. With the internet and social media -- and this guy now has your phone # -- it is way too easy to find out where you live.

For business calls, I purchased a disposable, untraceable phone at Wal-Mart and purchase minutes monthly. ***Just a suggestion.

Cate is right

I have a Skype number that I use for all communications with clients even those I've been doing business with a long time. It is very inexpensive, $60 a year and no address is associated with it unless you include it.

You can look into it here:

You can pay quarterly if you prefer but it will help protect your privacy and keep you safer online.


I just checked. The kid is still in the pic. Just one more who doesn't pay attention. What a shame...and what a waste of our time and energy.

Cannot imagine

`Why anyone would post photos of their child on the Internet - anyplace let alone at a site where they hope to project a professional image.

Doreen, its a pretty common phenomenon...

....with the "mommy blogger" set. Smile

Contract on hold

I have had a client hire me on fixed-price. He willingly paid the 50% upfront that I quoted at the start and the rest 50% once the work was done. He hired me a second time and paid the 50% immediately.

After the work was completed, the contract went on hold. I checked my transactions and found that all the payments he had made are pending (as in, they do not have a due date yet). It's been 15 days since the first payment was made.

I have followed up with the client number of times. All I got so far is "Yes, my bank is denying the charge. I have to talk to a specialized person at the bank. I called and they said they will contact me within the next few business days".

I am beginning to wonder if there is such a thing as staying safe on oDesk. I have had another client like that who gave me lower feedback simply because I followed up on payments when the contract went on hold.

Hello!Nilotpal, My sister


Nilotpal, My sister in-law was have the same problem like you. Unfortunately this is her first time worked in Odesk and then get scammed just like that. She never get the 1 week worked payment. and until now the client did not replied all her Emails. Too bad for her she was really annoyed with that Client. And now i'm asking How we really can be safe on Odesk? as i'm reading all the forums.