Translator identity theft: don’t let it happen to you

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We recently received an email from a translator, alerting us to the fact that she’d had to update her personal details after being the victim of online ID fraud. In a highly competitive industry based almost entirely on the internet, one bad review can really affect a translator’s ability to get work; as an agency looking to place jobs quickly with skilled linguists, we unfortunately do not have the time to investigate a poor score or give a new translator the benefit of the doubt. In light of this we investigated: how can translators protect their identity and reputation online?

Beware of fake agencies
One of the common ways that scammers might get hold of your details is by posing as a translation agency to access your CV and personal data. One key thing to look out for is a suspicious looking email address (a free email provider such as Google Mail should ring alarm bells; while this is fine for an individual, most agencies will have a paid server-based email system in place). Another is any offer which differs from the usual correspondence you have with agencies: too much detail or a back story for a particular job, much higher rates than you would usually be paid or a tone/register that doesn’t seem right. If someone contacts you offering translation work, a search on Google along with more translation industry-specific resources such as ProZ’s blue board or other forums can often flag up a dodgy sender.

Make your full CV less accessible
A quick scan of ProZ reveals plenty of translators who publish their CV in full to be downloaded by prospective agencies. In an industry where quick accessibility is often the key to securing jobs, this might be a tempting option. However, if your personal details and education/training history are available for the world to see, there’s nothing to stop someone copy-pasting your information and passing it off as their own. Building up your online reputation by requesting ProZ feedback or testimonials from regular clients will make you an attractive option to prospective agencies; you can then request that they contact you for a full copy of your CV – this puts you in control of who can access your information.

Sign off your emails in a unique way
Make it clear that your emails are authentic by creating a unique signature: you could scan in your written signature, for example. You may also want to include a short paragraph under your signature outlining which email address(es) you use. Something along the lines of “any correspondence not sent from example@server.com or example@translate.com is not authentic” serves as a simple reminder to the client, who might otherwise assume that an impostor address very similar to your standard account might also be you.

These are just a few suggestions to help you avoid being the victim of identity fraud online. If you have any ideas of your own we’d love to hear from you for a follow-up post; the best way to beat internet crime is to work together!

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