Freelancer.com, a crowdsourced jobs marketplace, is strengthening the security of its platform against scams and frauds with two new mechanisms. The company has announced its 7 million users will need to register a phone number for security purposes, while their country of location will be identified and prominently displayed on the profile.
The changes, which are the first of a series of “further actions” rolling out over the coming weeks, are being made after Freelancer.com unearthed a scammer from India who had tried to defraud them after logging $14,000 in fake jobs.
Setting up two accounts using fake names, profile pictures and locations, the user (who was identified as male) was caught trying to boost his credibility with the work; the idea being that his impressive job history and user feedback would help gain the trust of others, who he could potentially rip off, before moving on to start to the process afresh.
Either way, alarm bells went off and the company — which owns businesses in Canada, Germany, Sweden, the US, the UK, among other markets; and has seen nearly 4 million projects posted to date — spotted the issue early and withdrew the credit, much to the chagrin of the would-be-fraudster.
The company says it is making the changes to “improve the integrity of our marketplace”. Keeping user history, reviews and other feedback genuine is critical to maintaining trust and honesty on the site. Without that, the community and its business would suffer.
Now phone numbers will be used to verify important changes to user accounts — such as the names of bank accounts and withdrawal methods — in a bid to combat phishing and hacking threats. Users can set up their security number via the ‘Settings’ option in their profile.
The site is doing verification of its own and it has updated user profiles to include a reference to the country of residence, based on their IP address (although that is not immune from being tampered with):
We have set the country on every account on the website to the true country that person is from. We’re doing this to stop people from impersonating others or misrepresenting where they are from.
Freelance.com had 4 million users when it acquired Canada’s ScriptLance in July 2012. It figures that, with the company on course to double those numbers within a year, there’s an increasing need to protect users against the threats that will inevitably target its fast growing platform.
Here’s an example of how the new country tag can help users identify suspicious inconsistencies within profiles. This profile — one of the two fakes — is clearly labelled as based in India despite the user’s persona built to be American.
It’s still not entirely obvious that this is a fake, however, so the additional steps that are coming will be much welcomed.
Headline image via Shutterstock