‘Red flags’ to consider when applying for freelance jobs in Malaysia


In accordance to the Social Security Organisation’s (Socso) Employment Insurance System, the number of unemployed cases in Malaysia peaked at 67,068 on 31 July 2020. With the second wave of Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO) coming into play following the spike in COVID-19 cases, many are beginning to feel anxious about the possibility of being laid off.

As the nation witnessed a switch in the working trend amidst the pandemic, freelancing has emerged as one of the preferred modes of income. In accordance to the World Bank data in October 2020, 25.15% of Malaysia’s workforce are self-employed, with a portion attributable to freelancers. Freelancing appeals to those who want to explore different industries or acquire new skills and knowledge. This gives people the chance to pursue their passions and be entrepreneurs without abiding by the stringent 9-to-5 working hours.

Self-employment is a double-edged sword. While freelancing in Malaysia has been incredibly empowering as of late, every wrong step has a price to pay. This is because scammers are constantly looking to take advantage of eager gig workers. Although having the freedom to make decisions and to determine your working environment may sound tempting, it is crucial not to neglect the risk(s) i.e. miscommunication associated with it.

Receiving constant and prompt payments is one of the few struggles freelancers face. As some freelancers do not get to meet their clients or employers face-to-face, this creates the opportunity to be “ghosted” by their clients – making it difficult for freelancers to track them down for overdue payment.

Gigworks is one of the online platforms freelancers can use to ensure the safety and assurance of their gig work. As a leading provider of online professional service engagement, Gigwork offers a secure platform for freelancers to display their portfolio to potential clients, effectively addressing concerns such as fraudulence. To ensure both parties comply with the agreement, Gigworks has set up a protection policy whereby the payment is only released once the work is completed.

Glenn Tay, Chief Executive Officer and Founder of Gigworks, shared that freelancers are often misled to work for free, hence are easily deceived by attractive rewards.

“Sketchy job listings are commonly sighted, and unfortunately, without warning labels. Most freelancers have seen their fair share of fraudulence, especially those who are inexperienced in the industry. Though self-employment is extremely alluring for the money, it is important to be vigilant of the ‘red flags’ associated with the job,” said Glenn.

These are some ways to identify credible freelancing job listings to prevent yourself from becoming a victim of fraud:


Contracts are legally binding agreements that allow both the business and worker to deliver and clarify their roles in the deal, preventing miscommunications and disputes from arising.

Regardless of who you are doing the work for, sign an agreement that establishes the work, fees, and the time and mode of payment. Once both parties sign and date the document, you’re good to go!


Be aware of fake job postings even on official websites. Take your time to scroll through their profile and only accept jobs from employers with a verified rating, as this determines that the client is genuine. Additionally, you may search for reviews online to determine if your client is able to meet their contractual obligations.


Freelancers often offer various modes of payments to attract more clients. Such payment methods include direct deposits, cheques and credit card payments. Scams may occur through unusual payment systems such as vouchers, gift cards and other forms of goods and services instead of cash. The best way is to limit yourself to the payment methods you are familiar with.


Freelance sites are often equipped with integrated communication systems that allow both parties to communicate and make deals without divulging personal information. This provides privacy protection for workers, preventing fraud and allowing paper trail. If deals are being made outside these platforms, it is advisable to create a business email address to protect and record every agreement being made, as this enhances the credibility for your job opportunities.


In uncertain times like the pandemic, freelancers are worried about their job stability. They become blinded to the contentious criterias, i.e. payment to the employer, just to secure a job. Legitimate freelance job listings do not oblige you to pay for an interview. Do not fall for false promises made by the organisation such as securing plentiful tasks or rewards after paying an entry fee. More often than not, these clients do not have the integrity to keep their promises and you will wind up on the losing end.

“Many scams often involve taking advantage of people eager to increase their savings quickly. Although cruel and extremely unethical, many people are willing to exploit the emotions of these troubled freelancers, especially during worrisome times like this, when the future of their cash flow remains unknown,” said Glenn.

“We continuously strive to provide the best quality of service for our users. To ensure their safety on our platform, we have developed an internal software system to detect scammers, preventing innocent emerging freelancers from being a victim of fraudulence.”

Now that you have some insights on what to look out for when searching for freelance jobs, get started to establish your portfolio! Take the opportunity to build a career that will provide a living during this pandemic. Remember to follow these steps to avoid being a victim.

For more information on Gigworks and its services, please visit


Gigworks is a mobile application inspired by the impact and advancement of technology in our lives. With an extensive online catalogue of listings being posted every day, users can expect to gain more flexible access to buy and sell quality services at their fingertips. Launched in 2020, Gigworks began in Singapore and has since been well-received by both local and regional users as the go-to platform for online professional service engagement.