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Language Industry Scams That Exist

Scams - Translation - The more you know - Language Industry - Food for thought

The language industry is an industry not very well known to most of us. But, nonetheless, there are moments in our lives where we might come across language companies. Ever needed someone to communicate to a parent or client that spoke another language from yours? Received documents in language that needed to be translated? The instances are increasingly the norm especially now that the world has gotten so much smaller and we are continuously working with people from other parts of the globe. Hiring language companies and consulting with linguists has become a requirement!

The great thing is that this industry is rapidly growing, and many legitimate companies are willing to help. Ourselves included! However, the downside is that there are also ” companies” or “translators” pretending to offer you services you are looking for but end up scamming you. To prevent getting scammed there are a few key things to watch out for. Here we go!

This fake translator is trying to scam someone

Translation is not simply transforming a document into another language, it’s about appealing to a different reader and getting the message across in the best way possible.

If you are not sure if a company is legit, the following tips can be helpful for you to prevent getting scammed.

In a business, the quality of its communications says a lot. A great translation is about making a good impression and delivering a proper document that has both aesthetics and precision in every word.

When translating, a lot can go wrong if the proper steps are not honored, so here is a list with the top do’s and don’ts of translation processes that you need to look out for.

Verify Through Translator-centric Sites

Scams can happen through digital money transfers too

As mentioned above, unfortunately, getting scammed by language companies is something that happens more frequently. That’s why companies create pages where you can verify other companies. This way, you can check if they are legit or not. An example is PROZ. This company has records of all the language companies with a blue board record or blue certification. You can easily check the authenticity of companies using their website.

Don’t Be Fooled!

Most companies will ask translators or translation firms for a demonstration of their work by using something they submit to you. Often this is around 300 words or some small amount. This way, the company provides you their service for free to see if their services align with your needs. Be aware though some companies try to lure you in by requesting 1000 words or more. When you see this amount of words for a demo, you are better off looking for a different client or company. No legit language company will request this amount of words for free. They most likely are trying to stitch together a bunch of free translations to get their project done for free.

Another version of this scam can be more incremental where a company asks for very small translation project and pays. Then follows up with a much larger one, enticing the translator. The translator delivers this big project but then the company goes ghost – taking the work but never paying them. That sucks, right? That is why it is important to look at all the tips in this list and not just go off the number of words a language company offers as a demo.


People talk, and so do freelancers. References might be the most important thing in this time and age. The world spins largely online, and therefore references are key when trying to figure out how a company functions or how legit they are. Read the references carefully.

Don’t just read the top two in the list on their website. Have a close look at what other people’s experiences were. Try to find the people that wrote the messages. Check if they are legit people. Scammers are clever and can easily write their own references. The more references a company has, the more reliable the references usually are. If there are no references to be found, you are better off looking for a different hire or collaboration.  

Payment Process

This poor fellow got scammed by a bad translation company

Another trick as a translator to check if a company is legit is looking closely at their payment methods. Are there methods backed up by trustworthy companies? For example, Tipalti or other notable safe payment platforms. If the payment method seems shady or sketchy or they are using a method you and your translator friends have never heard of, be careful. If they can’t clearly demonstrate a direct payment method, you’d better run for the hills.

Policy Documentation

All websites and companies have a policy documentation page. These documentations provide all information about the company and its policy. Read this and compare it with other companies that you already trust and have used before. Then, ask yourself the question if their policy lines up with what you are looking for?


LinkedIn is a platform used to build and nurture professional networks. You’d better be on it! On the platform you can find lots of companies and even employee information. Check LinkedIn if the company you are thinking of hiring or going to do work for is on the website. Look at their followers, staff and comments.

If they have none of the three, we would recommend thinking of picking another choice. Like with the references before, read the comments on their LinkedIn page. What do people say about the company? How was their experience? Do they post content regularly or seem engaged online?  

Social Media

Check to see if a language company has social media

Because these companies work online, they have to find their customers online too. Therefore, they often have social media pages across different platforms. The social media pages are designed for marketing their company. If you can’t find them on social media, then you should be very careful. Now you might not see them doing the latest dance on Tik Tok but a reputable company should have the basics like a Facebook Business Page ,Twitter, Instagram, and of course….LinkedIn!

Google Reviews

Last, but definitely not least is looking at Google Reviews when searching for companies. Almost all companies that offer their products online get reviews that get placed on Google. Search for them. It shouldn’t be hard to find.

If you can’t find them, look for a different company. If there are reviews, do your homework and read through them all. Apart from reading the messages, look at the number of reviews and how far back the reviews go. If the reviews are only from the last few weeks, check to see if you can verify how long the company has been operating.

It Works Both Ways

Be careful when seeking out the right language company

Remember it’s not just language companies that scam people. It is also individuals scamming language companies. For instance, them never paying for a service rendered or going missing after a project delivery. Language companies need to be careful too when getting offered a job, contract, or work. Paying in advance is sometimes tricky. There are methods where the money gets held in a third-party website. Once the customer accepts the service, the money will be transferred to the service provider. Be careful!

The More You Know

Getting scammed by a language company or individual translator has happened to too many people. So, both need to be vigilante! Just like in any other day to day dealing like say finding a reputable plumber, remember to do your research.

We hope this guide was helpful and that you now have a better idea of how to prevent getting scammed. Scammers are clever, but so are we. If you follow the list of tips mentioned above, you should find a suitable company to either work with or get work from.