Is a scam?

Ever done any work for Do you think that a scam? I signed up for Freelancer in the hope of being able to prove that they are a good source of earning extra online income. The more I dived in, the more questions I had.

is a scam

What is started back in 2009 and is based in Sydney, Australia. matches employers with freelancers to have projects completed using a pool of online freelance workers that are registered with them. It is a place where work is outsourced to registered freelancers and operates worldwide.

Who is for? is for anyone who has transferable computer skills. Employers who sign up with are looking for people with skills that include data entry, spreadsheets, graphic design, programming, and customer service, to name a few.

Who uses is used by small businesses who need special projects done or who need expertise in a certain area that the employer do not currently employ. In reviewing the projects, I also found that many employers offering project work have a history with Freelancer. This is noted in their profile as a reliable company that pays.

How does Freelancer work?

In order to use Freelancer, you must set up an account, complete your profile and select a membership type. Once that is completed, you should take a few competency tests so employers know you are the real deal. You can then start checking out projects and bidding on them.

Competency Tests

In order to prove that you have skills, freelancers will need to take a few competency tests. This can be both a good thing and a bad thing. Let’s face it. Hiring someone online is very tricky business. People misrepresent themselves all the time on the Internet. So I suppose it protects both you and the employer if you can prove that you know what you know. The charge for competency tests ranges from $5.00 to $15.00. If Freelancer wasn’t trying to make money at every angle, these exams would and should be free.

NOTE:  taking competency exams does not guarantee that you will be chosen for projects.

Membership fees: There are several different types of memberships available as you can see below. Each membership has different benefits. Membership payments are made via a credit card, Paypal or Skrill.

is a scam

How do I get paid?

Employers set aside funds to pay freelancers and freelancers set up how they want to get paid. There are two ways to get paid: a milestone payment which is partial payment made part way through a project and again at the end of a project or one payment at the end of the project. Once a project is completed, the employer authorizes Freelancer to release the funds. takes a minimum of $5.00 or 10% of the project fee paid to the freelancer. These fees can be reduced if you have a monthly membership.

Freelancer Support

If you have any questions or problems, you can email them. There is no phone number that I could find. Unfortunately, my research indicates that support inquiries are not always dealt with in a timely manner.


  • You can submit a bid on any project you want
  • You can bid on multiple projects
  • There are plenty of projects to choose from
  • You can work from anywhere
  • You can choose to work on big projects that take a lot of time or shorter projects that need to be turned around quickly
  • You can get paid an hourly rate or by project
  • You have an opportunity to rate your employers
  • Online member forum where you can ask questions and seek advice


Seeding your account: One thing that concerns me is the fact that freelancers have to have a balance in their account before they start working. While I realize that working online is a different type of animal altogether, I don’t think you should have to put money in your account before you even start working. In fact, when I was a temp in a previous life, any fees incurred by the agency were paid by the employer–not the employee, aka freelancer, in this case.

So this is how it works. Say you bid on a job and the agreed payment is $250. Once you’ve accepted that job, Freelancer will hit you with a fee and that fee will be based on the type of membership you hold. If you decide that you don’t want the project or can’t do it for whatever reason and cancel it AFTER Freelancer has already charged you a fee, those fees are not refunded.

Newbie payments: If you are new to Freelancer, getting paid for the first time after you complete a project will take time. Your first payment will take a while. There’s a 3-week verification period before you get that first check. After that, it should be smooth sailing.

17.5 Million users:  This site has well over 17.5 million users. To me, it would be very hard to separate yourself from the crowd when you are competing with over 17 million users. Ok, all 17+ million users are not actively using Freelancer. And granted, not everyone has the same skill set. The skill sets that employers are looking for range from simple data entry to web development and programming. So there’s a very broad range of projects to bid on.

Accounting problems: In doing my research, I came across numerous complaints about how funds are handled at Employers who are looking for freelancers normally deposit money into a type of escrow account so that when their jobs are completed, the freelancer is guaranteed to be paid. Some employers have complained that when paying their escrow fees, the funds are deducted multiple times from their bank accounts. Freelancers complain that their payments are held up for no reason.

At the time of this post, I found many recent complaints about freelancers not getting paid, getting locked out of their accounts and having no response from Freelancer Support.

On the other side, employers have complained that money is being taken from their accounts repeatedly as well.

Many different levels of membership: This can be both a good thing and a bad thing.

5 Tips on Bidding for Projects

  • If you are a newbie, start bidding on small, short-term projects first. This will help you gain trust in the community.
  • Look for employers who have a history of paying their freelancers
  • Check the reviews of employers you are considering
  • If you work on a long or large project, ask for a part-payment halfway through the project and make sure that is stipulated in your bid.
  • Once you complete a project and you know that your employer is happy with your work, ask them to provide a review for you.

Final Verdict – Proceed with Caution

I cannot call this a scam site, however, there are certainly a few people out there who are not happy with the way they’ve been treated at There will always be a few people who don’t have good experiences.

In my opinion, taking a few tests will give you some credibility but does not guarantee you will be chosen for work. Paying for the competency tests, I think is a rip off. You can go to a competing website like Upwork and take competency tests for free. The lack of customer support is worrisome as well. My final verdict would be to proceed with caution.

If you are serious about making money online, then check out how I do it.

Thank you for taking the time to read my review on Is a scam? Have a story you’d like to share? Please let me know your thoughts by leaving a comment below.

4 thoughts on “Is a scam?”

    • Hi Steve. I checked out your video. I’m really sorry that you had such a bad experience with Freelancer. I am reading more and more about these types of companies putting money into your account and then taking it back. And, of course, customer service is thin or non-existent. Thanks for warning us! Alanna