News from the 2013 ProZ.com conference in Porto 2

This year’s ProZ.com International Conference is being held in the World Heritage city of Porto, Portugal, and I am having the pleasure of being one of the attendees, together with staff members Maria Kopnitsky and Jared Tabor, and more than 200 members! With 28 speakers and 30 sessions scheduled, this conference is one of the largest ProZ.com events organized in the last 5 years.

Attendees, as they arrived, getting ready for the opening session.

As the conference goes by, the organizers, Certified PRO Paula Ribeiro and members Maria Pereira and Rafaela Lemos, are working together with other language professionals to find the answer to a question that appears to be a major concern within the translation profession: “What are the new demands of the translation industry?” To address this concern, presentations on personal branding, SEO, the state of the industry and translation technology were offered earlier today. Sessions on meeting and keeping clients, CAT tools and ethical practices are reserved for tomorrow, Sunday 9th.

The social side of this event included so far: a photo tour, the visit to a cellar, a pre-conference powwow and the presence of Alejandro Moreno-Ramos, author of the MOX series, who was kind enough to take a couple of hours to autograph his books (thanks Alejandro!).

Alejandro autographing his books, “Mox” and “Mox II”.

Just a few hours ago, there was a gala dinner at Burmester Cellars, a cellar located in one of the most beautiful places of Vila Nova de Gaia. The food was great; the wine, exquisite; and the company, the best! Now getting ready for Sunday sessions and a post-conference powwow at Restaurante BibóPorto.

Click here to see what’s going on in this event in real time.

Congratulations organizers and attendees for this outstanding event!

Lucía

Choosing the right client 35

In general, the criteria used by translation agencies and end clients for choosing the appropriate translator or interpreter for a given job are well-known: specialization in a given language pair and field of expertise, years of experience, rate range, availability, credentials and client feedback, among others. But outsourcers are not the only ones in a position to set the parameters for a given job and working relationship. Translators and interpreters too can –and actually should– have their own set of parameters to decide when to accept a job offer made by a new client or decline it.

More…

Risk management in translation: ProZ.com knowledge base for translators, translation companies, and others in the language industry 2

Every business type is exposed to risks influenced by numerous factors and the translation and interpretation business is no exception. Regardless of the type of activity involved, everyone either offering language services or looking for language service providers is exposed so several types of risks that should be acknowledged if a reliable and successful service provider-outsourcer relationship is desired.

With this in mind, ProZ.com has been creating content and developing new tools with the purpose of helping translators, translation companies, and others in the language industry to learn about the different risks involved in doing business online and how to prevent them.

One of these resources, and probably the most widely used by service providers when assessing risks, is the ProZ.com Blue Board. The Blue Board record is the complete, searchable database of records made up of feedback entries posted by language service providers in connection with outsourcers they have worked with. For service providers, the Blue Board record has proved to be a great tool for assessing the reliability of specific outsourcers before accepting a job offer from them. For outsourcers, being listed in the Blue Board record with a good number of positive entries from service providers represents a great marketing tool. Outsourcers with a good Blue Board record report a higher degree of trust and shortened project launch cycles among those service providers who reference the Blue Board. More information about using the Blue Board record is available here.

Another great source of information in connection with business risks in translation is the ProZ.com Wiki. The ProZ.com translation industry wiki is an ever-evolving collection of articles about relevant, industry related topics, written and updated regularly by translators themselves. In this wiki, there are several articles on risk management, addressed both to language professionals and to outsourcers. Risk management-related wiki articles include the following:

For more information about the ProZ.com industry wiki, visit this page.

A recently released scam alert center is another potentially valuable resource for those seeking to manage risk when it comes to false job offers and other scams. The Translator scam alert center is an area used to provide organized, concise information regarding false job offers or requests and other scams which may be aimed at or are affecting language professionals and outsourcers. Information provided in the center is based in part on reports made by ProZ.com members through the online support system and in the ProZ.com Scams forum, and ProZ.com members have the option of subscribing to receive useful news and alerts of new scams as they are detected. The scam alert center is available here.

Finally, ProZ.com also offers its members a free webinar on “Risk management for translators and interpreters” on a monthly basis. This training session enumerates and explains risk management procedures that translators and interpreters should follow as part of their everyday professional activities. The schedule for these webinars is available here.

Regardless of the number of years a service provider or an outsourcer has been in the translation industry, risks are everywhere when doing business. However, the above-listed resources and tools have been made available by ProZ.com to promote not just professional practices, but also clear and concise information on the steps that should be taken to avoid risks when participating in the language industry. If you have any questions about these tools and resources, or if you need assistance with using them, contact site staff through the support center.

Scams targeting translators: the advance payment scam, and how to get the word out? 4

Earlier this year a few blog posts were made here regarding scams targeting translators; I’ll post links to them at the bottom of this post for easy reference. It is interesting to note that these are the T.O. posts with the most views so far, and that among the search terms used by visitors coming to this blog, those which are clearly translators seeking information on possible scams rank highest, daily. I don’t know if scams targeting translators are on the rise, but they definitely do not seem to have diminished much.

In the ProZ.com forum dedicated to sharing news on scams I came across one that keeps popping up: the advance payment scam (you can see the thread here). These involve advance payment for a job, usually by check. The translator receives the check, which has been made out for an amount exceeding the amount agreed upon, and is asked to wire the difference back to the “outsourcer”. The checks bounce later, or turn out to be false, leaving the translator having performed some free work, out of some money, and in some cases, in trouble with the law (in the cases of forged checks).

Many of us can spot these attempts fairly easily, but it seems clear that there may still be a need to better spread the word or educate colleagues in detecting and reacting to these false job offers.

A group of reference links regarding detecting and responding to a potential scam has been posted in the Scams forum, here (reproduced below).  Do you know of other good reference material on the subject that could be added? And just as important, how can this material be spread to colleagues who need it?

Translators be aware: an ongoing scam asks for help using real translators as the “senders” 23

Early this week an ongoing scam using the impersonation of real translators and the emulation of their emails as a point of contact was reported.

This scam appears to take the form of an email “sent” from the real translator to other translators, using the real translator’s name and possibly data to lend credit to the sender, such as links to the translator’s website, etc. The emails appear to the recipient to have been sent from the real translator, with the actual sender’s address (the scammer’s address) “masked” behind this in order to receive any replies.

I copy below the message which has been received by translators using this method:

Hope you get this on time, Am sorry I didn’t inform you about my trip to Spain for a program,I’m presently in Madrid and am having some difficulties here because i misplaced my wallet on my way to the hotel where my money and other valuable things were kept.I want you to assist me with a loan of (2,600 Euro = 3,300 Dollars) to sort-out my hotel bills and to get myself back home.

I have spoken to the embassy here but they are not responding to the matter effectively,I will appreciate whatever you can afford to assist me with,I’ll refund the money back to you as soon as i return,let me know if you can be of any help.I don’t have a phone where i can be reached.

Please let me know immediately if you can be of help to my situation.

The message itself is classically scam; it is the fact that it appears to be from a fellow translator, perhaps even someone you know or have had contact with before, which can disarm the unsuspecting. If you receive a message similar to the one above, or any email that appears out of the ordinary, from an apparent colleague, please proceed with care.

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At the same time, be aware that cases of  “email hijacking” can also lead to scam messages like this being sent to your own email contacts (one such case was brought to my attention this week). To protect your email account(s), follow these basic guidelines:

* Use a strong password for your account (consider a mixture of letters (upper and lower-case) and numbers or special characters which is longer than 8 characters.
* Do not use the same password for all of your online accounts.
* Try to avoid sharing your email address on the Internet (the profile email feature is designed to protect against this and avoid the necessity of publishing your address publicly in your profile, for example).
* Use and keep your anti-virus software up to date.
* Make sure your email program or provider has a spam filter, and use it, flagging emails which are spam that are not caught automatically by the filter.
* Never give out your password.

Protecting yourself from fraud: another recent example 8

Thanks to Neil Payne at Kwintessential for bringing this next case out, in which both translators and agency are affected when the scammer poses as a legitimate, existing company.  I reproduce here a version of the post originally made on Kwintessential’s blog (scroll down for the link to the original posting):

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By very good fortune a translation scam using Kwintessential’s name and brand has been exposed by an eagle-eyed translator.

The email was sent to the translator, who shall be called Mr X, requesting information for a large project.

Dear Mr. X

As translation office on the west coast of the US, we are looking for freelance translators in languages: German, French and Spanish.
Our research for translators in the German language has brought up your name again and again. You have been highly recommended by some of our valued customers and colleagues.

We need to request information on your current rates, your fields of expertise (law, merchandising and advertisement needed), words per day translated also a time schedule of your availability for the months of March, April and May 2011.

The project we will be working on, enfolds a value of 80.000 words, was commissioned by a notable US American company.

We will need your documentation not later than March 01.2011.

Best regards,

[Contact information removed from this post]

Emails went back and forth between [the sender] and Mr X with the former potentially placing a large amount of work. It was by good fortune that Mr X was suspicious of the email due to 1) the email being a non-company address (xxxx@aim.com) and 2) the misspelling of Kwintessential. Out of prudency Mr X decided to reply and CC’d our USA office whose address was used in the signature. Our Manager in the USA immediately drew our attention to the matter.

It appears the scam works in the following manner: a translation agency wins a contract to carry out a translation job. In order to increase their profit margins they send emails to freelance translators requesting they take on the assignment. The poor translator naturally feels they are in good hands but will eventually come to realize they will never be paid. The scamming agency therefore makes a 100% mark-up. All the translator can do is come to the real Kwintessential who will obviously have no idea of what has happened.
It is extremely unfortunate that people feel they have to carry out their business without principles and ethics. It is these scammers that give us reputable agencies a bad name. On top of this they are taking advantage of the good will of translators who work extremely hard, are true professionals and do not deserve such treatment.

Thankfully Mr X was clever enough to work out the bad intentions of [the scammer]. We have written to [the scammer] but surprise surprise no reply.

Message of the story for translators is always check the credentials of the agency and ensure 100% they are the real deal.

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See the original post at Intercultural Communication and Translation News

Protecting yourself from fraud: a recent example 5

I’d like to share a recent case of a fraudulent job, which may serve as complimentary information to Enrique’s post on scams earlier this month, and as an example of how important it is for translators to do their homework when entering into negotiations with a potential new client.

A job was posted on the site. The job itself met the requirements and rules for posting a job.

However, upon entering into communication with the poster of the job, at least two site members noticed certain aspects which sent up red flags for them, and they reported these through the support system. The causes of the suspicion included a free webmail address, a resistance to provide full contact details, and in one case “awarding” the job and emitting a PO only to then cancel not long afterward.

When this was reported through support, further investigation into the matter revealed that a case of potential credit card fraud was also present. In the end the job was removed, the posting profile was removed, and translators who had quoted on the job were contacted and warned to proceed with caution if they were in contact with the job poster.

First, this is a nice example of how a couple of alert members were able to help save colleagues some time and headache. Equally important, though, is the example of being vigilant when it comes to business decisions, in this case, “Should I choose to work with this person?”

Some job postings require vetting, and this vetting is done by site staff. However, a majority of the jobs posted do not require vetting (for example when the job poster has membership or has been “whitelisted” for having posted previous jobs which were in line with site rules, having a strong Blue Board record, etc.). Regardless of whether vetting is required or not, efforts are made to ensure that the jobs posted are legitimate and to protect ProZ.com members. However, this is not a replacement for thoroughly checking out a new client! Always be sure to do your homework when it comes to entering into a new working relationship with a client. This applies, of course, in general, not just on posted jobs, and not just on ProZ.com. Following the right procedures to protect yourself and your business can seem like it takes more time and hassle, but think of the time, hassle and money you can save by avoiding being on the receiving end of a scam or of non-payment.

If you aren’t practicing a strong risk management, please start doing so. And be sure to share what you know with fellow translators! In the case above, the key information in identifying the fraud was shared via the support system, allowing staff to then alert other members. Sharing scam and risk management information on ProZ.com and other sites for translators is a powerful way of protecting yourself and your colleagues. Knowledge, procedures and common sense are the best tools for keeping safe from this kind of threat.

Alejandro