By : Ngulli Kyallo
Couple of months ago, a friend showed me how to set up a Google alert and for the fan of it I set up my name and forgot the whole ‘crap’ of the tool.
Recently I got a pop up notification alert on a literature piece I had been tagged on as the author. But then I can swear I had never posted the piece on the ‘strange’ blog though I could remember writing the article at one point.
BEWARE OF the Identity thief and the Scam client who like in any other business keep prowling to eke from other writers’ sweat. In a recent social media discourse a freelancer was conned of seventeen articles by a client who just disappeared.
So how do you spot them and protect your freelance writing business?
- The Identity Thief
S/he targets the seasoned writers and uses your name or picture to post articles pretending to be you for financial benefits.
The tricky bit in handling this situation is the balancing act between building an on line authority and protecting yourself, besides the law being an ass on this.
However at the very basic protect your online accounts by changing passwords periodically and creating a second level protection like a security code authentication.
Nothing scares off a thief like knowing that they are busted. This is how:
Conduct a search on articles bearing your name or picture using Google Alert functions. With a keen eye on social media outlets, look out for strange activities on your online accounts.
Next step, stop the thief from using your identity by getting in touch with the blog editor and demand the article be pulled down.
Of course you will need to produce your proof. Use screen shots of your earlier drafts or correspondence you had on this article with friends or other editors.
Get as much information from any discussions that the editor may have had with the fake guy.
Further, alert other editors you work with about the fake identity and the possibility of being contacted by the scammer if not yet.
Next, send a mail to the thief and tell them you are aware of the vices and that you would expose them at all cost. At this point be cautions of a libel suit especially if your article was non-copyrighted and the thief smartly had out done you on this.
And since this may not be the only situation that you may have been conned off, repeat the process above to pull down all other similar cases on your articles.
2. The Scam Client
This second cadre thief targets writers who deal with direct clients, content mills pick or bidding gigs.
Since most of the work is submitted without a byline, it is near impossible to claim ownership once submitted.
Nevertheless if you understand article ownership and how to sniff potential scammers, you will be able to avoid them as early as possible.
These guys come in different forms;
The plagiarist will want you to re write other peoples content without your knowledge or express authority from the original owner.
You risk being charged for second liability infringement besides being blacklisted or tarnishing your reputation on such authority sites as Google.
Often this client will offer meager payment and it’s best turning them down at the earliest time. A simple first hand solution is to run the article on a plagiarism checker.
The reluctant payer will be uncomfortable when you bring up payment discussions. Usually wants to push these discussions to a later time and will not be clear about the payment milestones or deadlines.
When pushed they opt to use payments systems that are unpopular, complicated or you are not comfortable with.
It is best to run if such discussions keep on dragging or the client becomes non committal.
The ‘go-easy-contract’ guy is probably the easiest potential scammer to identify. Such thieves will avoid signing a contract deal often citing time constraints or the unnecessary hustle involved.
You will notice how they often hurry the whole process and ask for unpaid test samples at first. Any client, who does not email a contract within the first hour of an agreement or insists on unpublished sample, is not worth your precious writing time.
The mind shifter keeps changing his mind or instructions multiple times and is easily noticeable through a history of cancelled contracts or low writer reviews.
This scammer either is not sure of what he wants or is out to fleece extra information from you other than what the project requires.
If such a client is not willing to pay for any extra work, then your time is best committed to the other gig in your line.
However, that as it may be does not mean that good and honest clients do not exist, they do and many value their reputation and business that they would keep off such dirty games. Yet, while an encounter with the two scammers I pointed out can be de-motivating, sink or kill your writing business, it is healthy to face up to them as experiences and lessons learned.