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Protection Recommendations

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The following is a list of suggestions when committing to a service request:

Before Selecting a User
Once you are contacted by a member offering to fulfull the request, do the following:

1. Search this forum along with, vBulletin.org and vBulletin.com for post by that user and with that user's name. If the posts are generally helpful, then you are usually in good shape. If there are no posts in all three sites or there are a significant number of unhelpful or negative posts, be wary.

2. If appropriate, ask the user for past work examples (a "portfolio"). Note, however, that many service requests are very unique and cannot support a portfolio. Also, there is always an honest user who simply has not had enough jobs yet to build a portfolio.

Involving Payment

1. NEVER pay by check, cash, or money order as they offer little to no fraud protection. In the case of a check, you can at least cancel payment, but it eventually is same-as-cash to the endorse. Use PayPal or another secure, reputable online payment provider (although note that PayPal is by far the most commonly used provider).
Remember users with PayPal Premier and Business accounts can accept credit cards such as Visa or Mastercard. Both PayPal and credit cards support fraud protection, although PayPal's specifically excludes non-physical goods.

1 a. You should be aware that PayPal's coverage policies do not cover intangible goods. Effectively everything you do with vBulletin is an intangible good or service: for example, editing code. A tangible product would be a new server delivered to the user, for example. However, PayPal and electronic methods are far more preferable to any same-as-cash method.

2. Pay only once a product is delivered, but it is reasonable to expect the user to request a percentage of the payment up front if the payment is significant. Paying 100% up front is dangerous.

2 a. Paying up-front 100% for small jobs (typically less than $50) is an accepted practice due to the lower value of the good or service and the fewer complexities of multiple payments. However, on jobs of several hundred or thousands of dollars, you should definitely consider alternate payment percentages over time. For very large projects that could potentially involve sensitive data or harm you if released, you may want to consider having the developer sign a "non-disclosure agreement", or NDA, which usually states that information related to the project cannot be disclosed under penalty of law. When done legally, it is enforced fairly well in the United States, Britian, and other major countries. However, some countries such as China that do not place the same level of emphasis on digital work as other countries may be less effective.
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