One benefit of NOTIS membership is a listing in our public online directory. Prospective clients can find you this way, but unfortunately, so can people who are less honest. From time to time, you're bound to get a suspicious email.

Please use caution when responding to any email that seems to be from a new client, and be especially wary of clicking on links or attachments sent by people you don't know you can trust. Warning signs are offers of large payment in advance, multiple spelling or factual errors in the email, a name that doesn't seem genuine, and a lack of an email signature or other information that provides the sender's company affiliation, title, phone number or address. Some scammers will even ask what your language combination is (a legitimate customer will already know that information!).

For more information, please consult the articles linked below, or consult a colleague if you receive something that looks suspicious to you.

OVERPAYMENT SCAM. This is the classic scam targeting freelancers and anyone selling goods or services online. You'll receive an email from someone who lists no company or organizational affiliation, with a name that might sound made up, usually from a free email address like gmail. They'll want to pay you up front, by check or money order, to translate "articles." If you accept, they'll send you a check for more than the agreed price, and then ask you to quickly send a refund for the difference. But their original check is fake. If you send them money, you'll lose that amount for good (and they never really wanted that translation, anyway). This scam even has its own Wikipedia page where you can read more.

ONGOING SCAM from "Carl Zeiss," "Penguin Random House," "Academia Pharmaceuticals," "STADA" and others

Late in 2018, translators and interpreters began receiving email detailing a work-from-home offer from a company calling itself Carl Zeiss, Inc
. Since then the same scam has appeared under the stolen names of other real companies, including "Penguin Random House," "Academia Pharmaceuticals," "Macmillan Publishers," "ALRISE Biosystems GmbH," and "Telefonica Telecom."

The email usually begins like this:

Dear Applicant,

Your portfolio published on NORTHWEST TRANSLATORS & INTERPRETERS SOCIETY (NOTIS) has been reviewed by our HR Department at (Carl Zeiss, Inc., Penguin Random House, etc.) and we are pleased to invite you to an online interview/briefing exercise. You've been assigned to Charmaine Collins (Hiring Manager) of Carl Zeiss, Inc., Penguin Random House, she would be conducting an online interview with you.

This offer is not legitimate. People who have gone through the "interview" online - usually in a free, anonymous service like Google Hangouts or a Telegram channel - report being asked to buy gift cards and send the numbers to the company to "open their account," or they receive a check, then send a refund, and then see the original check bounce. Please don't waste your time or your money.

SCAM regarding National Court Interpreter Database
Listings in the NCID are free of charge for interpreters. If you receive an email instructing you to wire money to pay for your listing, do not respond. This message is fraudulent. If you receive an email like this, please report it to the Administrative Office for the courts at

BBB Scam Tracker is a free tool anyone can use to report suspected scams (from the Better Business Bureau).

Spot a Scam, from the Better Business Bureau, provides up-to-date information on recent scams and how to identify them.

2023 update from ATA regarding recent scams, with additional resources and info on how to report scams

"Scams" (episode 88 of the ATA Podcast), June 2023

Article by Carola Berger from the ATA Chronicle, 2020
Posted with the permission of the author

Free, on-demand ATA webinar: "Don't Fall for It: Scams Targeting Language Professionals", 2020

Article by NOTIS member Kenneth Barger, 2005
osted with the permission of the author

Savvy Newcomer's tips for avoiding scams

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