How to Stay Safe While Freelancing: Part One

Another great title for this first part of the post would be Red Flags: Should You Go Meet that Client or Not. If you read a previous post of mine on rules to freelancing work, you might have already been expecting this post to come up. It will consist of what I consider to be red flags and what I do in order to always be sure I will be okay. Best way to start this list is by listing potential red flags. Note: Red Flags can sometimes be subjective as it may also be depending on who you are and what you have to worry about in your line of work. For example, being female and a freelancing model can bring potential dangers I always have to keep in mind about. Some of these apply to all other freelancing jobs and gigs while some of them may not. The list goes without particular order:

  • No Contact Information: Generally if they don’t have contact information or won’t supply it on request, it is safer to say adios! They don’t have to give out their most intimate details from the get-go, but generally, depending what the job entails, I would at least ask for their phone, email, and website if they have one. If they want to run everything through email without a single Skype call or way to contact elsewhere, it’s just really sketchy of them. If you proceed to work with them, use the safest avenues to get your money. You do not want to hand over your own sensitive information.
  • Agree before we release any more details”: This is generally a bad sign. I’ve had “clients” who did not want to release information until I said yes to their request or until I signed something. Now, I always drop them at any hint of secrecy. Usually it is them trying to get me to do something sketchy and while I have been able to get out of it because I did not sign any details, they were still very upset I bounced even though it is not my fault they would not spill the beans at the start. If you still are unsure about what the job entails, the pay should not convince you to go into a gig blindly. Ask as many questions as you can! If they put up a hard wall, you don’t want that job anyway.
  • Required to go alone or meet at a private location: If you’re ever going to a gig site to work, especially for the first time, it is highly suggested to have somebody with you. I generally have somebody take me to the location as a chauffeur or have my “manager” come to meetings with me. My “manager” is always my most trusted partner who is familiar with the business as well so they really do have knowledge in what is going on – I always tell clients they are the person I always look to consult to when it comes to which projects to take on so it is in their best interest to include his input and interest in a shoot. If clients state that it’s okay to bring somebody, they’re most likely okay. The ones who REQUIRE you to go alone are the ones to avoid as they don’t seem to care about your comfort levels as they may just be doing something sketchy as well. Meeting at a private location can go well if a person is allowed to come with but if they’re requiring you to meet at a private location instead of a public one, especially if it’s the first time, that is also a red flag. Say no thanks and fly away.
    • Pro-tip: Usually, when I’m going to meet somebody for the first time, I mention the possibility of having someone come with me for whatever reason – manager needs to be there, I need a driver to the location, etc. I usually just mention it to see their response towards it and I’ve managed to scope out folks who were expecting me to go alone. If they seem bothered by the idea of you going with somebody, they just do not care about your comfort and I’d say good-bye to that client.
  • Getting checks before work starts: NEVER deposit any checks mailed to you before any work was done. There are so many scams out there that involve cashing or depositing checks that are fraudulent – seriously, google it. Always say no to any gig that states they will pay you a large amount of money in the form of a mailed check ahead of time for work and then some. Modeling gigs have these types of scams running around as well. What they generally say is that they will send you a check that will pay for your portion of pay as well as the payment for the studio and makeup artists at a location yet determined. They expect you to deposit the check in your bank and essentially use “their money” to pay yourself and the rest of the studio. Truth is, there is no shoot, no studio, no people to pay. They do send you a check if you provide them with an address but that check is no good. When you deposit the check, the check always seems to be ok to begin but then after it is meant to be cleared, it is found to be fake. You lose money, and the bank you’re with will most likely close your account and report the scam, thinking you’re a scam artist yourself. I’ve been told the best way to find out if it’s fake or not is to cash it at a check-to-cash location, but it’s generally not a good idea to be seen holding a fake check and trying to cash it to begin with.
  • Rude tone or uncomfortable correspondence: Always expect respect. If a potential client is going back and forth with you and their messages seem to lack a little respect for you, cease contact with them. Generally, I let them know what they’re doing wrong and why I won’t work with them, to give them a chance to realize their error, in case they didn’t realize they were making me feel less than comfortable talking to them.

 Now with or without these red flags waved, if something just doesn’t feel right, I just go with my intuition and drop them out of nowhere. When something doesn’t feel right and you can’t explain it, that’s your intuition saying “get out now.” Best red flag of them all is that uneasy feeling out of nowhere.

I intend to update this list when I come across some more, maybe in a new post to re-share my original red flags as well. As always, feel free to share some other red flags in the comments section that you may know of and experiences.