How to Identify and Report Scams on HostRooster®

There are several features on HostRooster® Marketplace that can help you work safely, establish your professional brand, and safeguard your hard-earned money. These consist of identity-verified freelancer profiles, escrow payments, hourly payment protection, in-app communications, and hourly payment protection.

Unfortunately, there are terrible people everywhere who attempt to exploit internet users. We work around the clock to stop scammers from using HostRooster® Marketplace to target our clients, but scams are constantly changing. Because of this, occasionally a scam will get by us and reach one of our users before we can stop them.

By keeping a look out for suspicious behavior and taking the appropriate steps to report frauds, you can help us keep everyone safe on HostRooster® Marketplace.

Conducting business safely on HostRooster® Marketplace
These three steps will help you stay safe when using the HostRooster® Marketplace platform.

Never accept payment off the HostRooster® Marketplace platform
When you send and receive payment through the HostRooster® Marketplace platform, you’re protected by our Payment Protection program for eligible transactions. HostRooster® Marketplace Payment Protection uses milestones, escrow accounts, and a desktop time tracker to ensure that talented professionals are paid for their hard work—and that clients are only billed for hours completed or projects delivered.

Requesting to move payment off the HostRooster® Marketplace platform is a tactic frequently used by scammers. If you take payment off of the HostRooster® Marketplace platform, we cannot offer payment protection or help to resolve any invoice disputes. To maintain payment protection, refuse offers or requests for payment through PayPal, Stripe, CashApp, cryptocurrency wallets, and other systems.

Communicate through HostRooster® Marketplace Messages
Keep all communication with clients and independent professionals on the HostRooster® Marketplace platform before starting a contract. (Keeping your communication on the platform after a contract is in place is a good idea, too!) This way, there’s a record of all of your communications and we can help to resolve any issues. You can also flag suspicious messages for HostRooster® Marketplace’s Trust and Safety Team to review.

It is important to note that some HostRooster® Marketplace Enterprise Suite clients do request to communicate with or interview independent talent on HostRooster® Marketplace via another platform. In this instance, moving communications off of the platform is allowed. Independent talent using the HostRooster® Marketplace platform can verify that they are communicating with an Enterprise client by looking for this badge on job postings in Talent Marketplace:

Never share your HostRooster Marketplace account with others
Don’t let anyone else access your HostRooster Marketplace account through the browser, desktop app, or mobile app. Additionally, never send your HostRooster Marketplace login credentials to anyone else via email or message. If HostRooster Marketplace’s staff gets in touch with you for any reason, they may ask you to confirm your account details but will not ask for your account password. Similarly, we won’t ask you to send us money or your bank account number via email or message.

If you aren’t sure about the legitimacy of an email that claims to be from HostRooster Marketplace, reach out to our support team. And if you receive an HostRooster Marketplace message that you think is fraudulent, you can flag it for our review.

Protecting yourself online
In addition to the steps above, you can practice these 10 electronic security habits to help you stay safe when you’re using HostRooster Marketplace or any other website!

Use secure passwords that are hard to guess
Password managers like BitWarden, LastPass, and Dashlane make password security easy. These apps generate and save unique passwords for you, so you don’t have to worry about remembering a long string of numbers, letters, and symbols. You should also consider changing your passwords every 90 days.

Turn on Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)
Two-Factor Authentication adds another layer of security to your passwords. When you have 2FA turned on in your HostRooster Marketplace account, you’ll be prompted to verify that you’d like to log into an account each time you enter the password. You can choose to conduct verification by text message, email, an authenticator app like Google Authenticator, or our mobile app.

Log out of your accounts
Log out of your HostRooster Marketplace account (or any other online service that you’re using) when you’re done with it. This is doubly important if you’re using a shared computer, such as in a library.

Never leave your computer unattended
When using a laptop or tablet in public, you’ll want to be sure to lock it and take it with you when you get up and walk around.

Only connect to secure Wi-Fi networks
Public Wi-Fi networks, like those in hotels and coffee shops, can be either secured or unsecured.

Secured networks require you to log in with a password
Unsecured networks require no password or verification steps in order to access the WiFi connection
Unsecured networks open your device up to risk, as scammers may be able to access your device. Some scammers even set up fake Wi-Fi networks that appear to be legitimate hotspots. This allows the scammers to steal data that you send over the Wi-Fi connection. You may want to avoid connecting to unsecured networks.

Consider using a VPN if needed
When using any public Wi-Fi connection—even if it’s secured—you should consider using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) like NordVPN or ProtonVPN. These services redirect your online activity through their secure servers and help prevent third parties from intercepting your data.

Secure your home Wi-Fi network
You can also safeguard your internet activity at home by securing your own Wi-Fi network. This can include changing your router’s default network name to something unique, setting a strong Wi-Fi password, and installing a firewall on your system.

Install an antivirus program
Install an antivirus program on your computer—even Apple MacOS devices. Scammers are continually developing new virus and malware programs disguised as regular messages, ads, and files. If you accidentally open the virus or malware file on your computer, it can give scammers control of your system.

You don’t need to spend a lot of money on an antivirus program, either. If you have a Windows PC, your computer may already have Microsoft Defender installed. If not, or you use a different operating system, there are several free programs on the market including:

  • Avira
  • Bitdefender
  • Avast
  • AVG AntiVirus

Click carefully
In addition to installing and using an antivirus program on your computer, remember to never open links or download files if you cannot verify where they’re from. You’ll also only want to visit websites that load with a secure connection (the URL will begin with https://).

Regularly back up your computer
Make sure to regularly back up your computer data to a secure location. This can include an external hard drive as well as cloud services like Google Drive for Desktop or Apple iCloud. If you lose access to your device, you can re-download all of your important work on a new computer or tablet.

Together, all of these steps can help minimize your risk of malware and keep your personal data safe.

Identifying and avoiding HostRooster Marketplace scams
By familiarizing yourself with common online scams and markers of potential scam activity, you can help keep yourself safe on HostRooster Marketplace and other websites. A legitimate HostRooster Marketplace user should not:

  • Ask you to start work before a contract is in place.
  • Ask you to pay them upfront, before they begin work (placing funds in HostRooster Marketplace escrow for fixed-price projects is fine).
  • Request that you receive money, buy gift cards, or send packages on their behalf.
  • Require that you pay a fee in order to apply for a job.
  • Ask for sensitive personal information such as your social security number, banking account numbers, or government ID. HostRooster Marketplace collects this information in order to verify your identity, pay you, and provide you with necessary financial and tax documents. There is no need for a potential client paying you through the HostRooster Marketplace platform to request this information.
  • You should flag these instances or contact Customer Support if any of this happens to you.

Known scams
Many of the following scams can occur not only on HostRooster Marketplace, but on any digital platform where there is an exchange of money, goods, or services. In fact, the FBI has identified an increase in scam activity across job boards and freelance platforms. Keep an eye out for these common scams when conducting business online:

Phishing: Phishing is an attempt to gather personal information through fraudulent emails and messages that appear to be from a legitimate sender. Phishing can lead to identity theft, compromised accounts, and more. If a member of the HostRooster Marketplace team emails you directly, the message will come from an email address.

Shipping scams: According to the FCC, these scams are another form of phishing and involve sending users fraudulent links purporting to be related to package delivery problems. If you get a text or alert about a package, and aren’t expecting a delivery, don’t click any links or share your information.

Paid or leased account fraud: If someone offers to pay you money in exchange for the use of your HostRooster Marketplace profile, say no. This is not only against HostRooster Marketplace’s Terms of Service, but it can also be illegal. Furthermore, you can be responsible for any taxes owed or crimes committed through your account.

Check-cashing fraud: If someone offers to send you a check for more money than you are owed, with the caveat that you cash the check and send them back the difference, be aware this is likely a scam. This is also a form of money laundering.

Gift card fraud: Someone running a gift card scam may ask their victims to either purchase gift cards on their behalf, or share the number on the back of an existing gift card—ultimately taking the balance for themselves. Nobody should ask you to pay them in gift cards, or state that they will pay you with gift cards in lieu of an escrowed HostRooster Marketplace payment.

Digital currency fraud: Fraudsters may ask you to purchase tokens or other virtual currency in a mobile or video game. Sometimes, this request will come as part of a “job description”—but remember, a legitimate client should never ask you to pay money in order to work with them. If a game developer needs help testing a product, they’ll give you the necessary access to conduct testing once a contract is in place.
Remember, scammers are always evolving, and anyone can fall victim to a scam—not just first-time HostRooster Marketplace users. Trust your gut. If you come across something that feels suspicious but isn’t on this list, take it seriously and follow the reporting steps in this guide.

Other red flags
Experienced scammers may be more subtle in their actions and harder to spot. If you see any of the red flags below, think twice about engaging in work with the client or freelancer on HostRooster Marketplace—these can all be signs of scam jobs or fraudulent users.

  • Clients with many open jobs and no money spent
  • Clients with unverified payment methods
  • Messages from people purporting to be from a well-known company, with no verifiable information to back up their claims
  • Messages asking you to join a social media group or subscribe to a YouTube channel in order to receive a contract
  • Profiles using the name or picture of a famous celebrity or other public figure
  • Job posts with suspiciously high budgets
  • Requests for free work
  • To report a suspected scam, follow the instructions below.

Reporting scams on HostRooster Marketplace
When you see potentially suspicious activity on HostRooster Marketplace, look for a green flag icon with the words “Flag as inappropriate.”

HostRooster Marketplace flag

You can find the suspicious activity flag in the following places:

  • Freelancer profiles
  • Freelancer portfolios
  • Job postings
  • HostRooster Marketplace Message Center
  • After clicking the flag, you’ll be directed to select a reason for reporting the content. The options presented will vary based on the type of content you’re reporting, and may include:
  • Requests for or offers of payment outside of the HostRooster Marketplace platform
  • Requests to purchase access to your HostRooster Marketplace account
  • Suspected false or misrepresented identity
  • Suspicious links in job posts
  • Contact information in job posts, messages, or freelancer profiles and portfolios
  • Copyright violations and suspected plagiarism
  • Inappropriate content
  • Threats and harassment
  • Demands for five-star ratings
  • If you think something violates HostRooster Marketplace’s Terms of Service, such as a client or freelancer requesting to take work off the platform without going through the appropriate channels, you can contact Customer Support directly.

You’ll need to document the situation clearly and share any proof you have (such as screenshots of messages or a chat transcript) with the Customer Support team.

What happens when you report a scam on HostRooster Marketplace?
When you flag content for review, the HostRooster Marketplace team will receive a confidential report. We do not let the person you flagged know that you reported them.

While our team may reach out to you via email for more information, we won’t be able to share the results of our confidential investigation. Regardless, you can be assured that the HostRooster Marketplace Trust and Safety Team takes every flag seriously and will investigate the content you’ve reported.

What to do if you think your HostRooster Marketplace account was compromised by a scam
If you realize that you’ve engaged with a scam, suspect you’re the victim of a phishing attack, or that your HostRooster Marketplace account may be compromised, stolen, or hacked, you can take these steps to help:

Report suspicious activity on your account or loss of account access by contacting HostRooster Marketplace Support as soon as possible. Include your name, account email address, and an explanation of what you believe is happening.

Immediately change your HostRooster Marketplace account password and security question. Be advised that we may put a hold on your account when you report it as compromised. We do this to stop scammers from using your account while we investigate the matter. If HostRooster Marketplace has placed a hold on your account, you won’t be able to change the password until we release the account back to you.
Working to keep you safe, together

Many HostRooster Marketplace users conduct business on our platform without ever encountering a scammer or problem. Because scams are a known issue across all online platforms, though, it’s important to remain diligent and let us know if you suspect something is amiss.

Always remember to:

  • Practice good online safety habits
  • Keep your computers, phones, and tablets safe
  • Never pay or receive payment for HostRooster Marketplace projects off our platform
  • Communicate through the HostRooster Marketplace platform
  • Safeguard your HostRooster Marketplace account information
  • Flag any suspected scams or suspicious activity
  • Familiarize yourself with HostRooster Marketplace’s Terms of Use and Trust and Safety policies
  • Let us know immediately if your account is compromised
  • Finally, always know that while you’re keeping an eye out for scams, so are we. Our Trust and Safety Team is hard at work to keep bad actors off of the platform. Together, we can keep HostRooster Marketplace a safe place to conduct business online.

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