Upwork Account Suspension: Why It Happens And What You Can Do About It

Last updated on August 10, 2020

upwork account suspension

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Kevin had been caught up in the maze of joblessness for two years, after completing his college studies, where he was studying animation.

At the end of his second jobless year, he learned about freelancing from a friend. His friend seemed to be doing quite well for himself, and soon Kevin decided to plunge into the freelancing world too.

He signed up for an Upwork account and was accepted.  Two weeks later, he netted a good client. Continuous bidding earned him a second client in the third month. Things were awesome and his friend envied him.

A few months later, Upwork updated their terms of service and introduced a 20% commission on freelancers’ earnings. Kevin, who was quite the smart guy, decided that there must be a way around this.

He suggested to one of his clients to pay him directly to his PayPal account and bypass Upwork. After all, they had each other’s email addresses.

The next day, as he rose early to start another day in freelancing, he got an email notification. Upon opening it, it read:

“Upwork Help Center: Your Upwork Account has been suspended.”

I could tell you the long of it, but the short of it was that he never recovered his Upwork account. as he had breached one of the key terms and conditions of Upwork.

He opened accounts on other freelancing sites, and also started a blog, but it took some time before he was able to get back on his feet again.

This may or may not have happened to you, but many freelancers worldwide have experienced Upwork account suspension. So why does Upwork suspend freelancer accounts?

1. Getting Paid Outside The Upwork Platform

Here’s a scenario. Assume you own a bakery where you’ve employed several sales people. After several years of operation, you realize that some of your employees have been selling YOUR bread behind your back and pocketing the money.

This is after you have set the bakery, marketed it vigorously and even paid your employees well.

Imagine that feeling?

That’s exactly the same situation that Upwork experiences when you sign up on their site, pick the jobs they have sourced for you, then move your clients from the platform.

Remember that there are several costs needed to run the site, and their support staff need to be paid, plus many other costs that I’m not aware of.

This appears to be the WORST mistake that you can commit on Upwork, and it is unlikely that you will get your account reinstated after this.

2. Sending Copy And Paste Proposals

Another reason for Upwork account suspension is when you send copy and paste proposals.

It is understandable that bidding for work can be a little tedious. Since you are not assured of being awarded the jobs that you apply for, you have to apply to as many suitable jobs as possible. As such, some freelancers choose to recycle the same proposal, never tweaking it to suit a particular job post.

Sadly, this is an act that will have you kicked out of one of the world’s biggest freelancing websites.

They perceive it as spamming. I believe the system has now been upgraded and will track spammers automatically.

As an Upworker, I have learned to customize every proposal. This shows the client that you have taken the time to read their job post and that you are a suitable candidate.

3. Sending Many Proposals And Not Getting Hired

This is one of the newest ways to get your Upwork account suspended. 

How many is too many? I asked one of the Upwork support representatives and there wasn’t any number given.

I have been approached by freelancers who keep bidding on the site but rarely or never get hired. There might be multiple reasons why your proposals are being rejected and you can read them here.

As Upwork is a for-profit company, they are looking to keep productive freelancers who will earn them money! As such, they keep tabs on the ratio between the number of successful and failed proposals.

Here’s a screenshot about that from the Upwork community.

 

If your account is suspended for this reason, you can file an appeal, especially if you have a contract running. Fortunately, with this issue, there is a chance of getting your account reinstated.

Remember that following up with your clients to get more work, and asking for referrals, is one of the best practices for freelancers. It’s a great way of ensuring that get regular work from your Upwork clients. 

4. Poor Feedback From Clients

You might adhere to all Upwork conditions, write great proposals but if your work doesn’t meet your clients’ expectations, you are likely to receive a warning letter from Upwork, leading to suspension thereafter.

It is highly unlikely that this can happen due to one or two clients posting less than favorable comments about you, but if it’s consistent, and clients state that they are not happy with your services, in the public or private feedback, your account may be suspended.

In that regard, always do your best work.

5. Harassing Clients To Change Your Feedback Or Give You 5-star Feedback

If you’ve been an Upworker for some time, you’ve probably at one time thought that you did such a splendid job, that you deserved a 6-star, let alone a 5 star, only for you to receive a measly 3.85.

Granted, sometimes you deserve that rate but sometimes you don’t.

It can be tempting to harass and harangue the client to change that feedback, but that would not be a wise path to take. The client may report you to Upwork and you might get your account suspended.

I propose that instead of harassing your clients for ratings, you should check your rating to figure out what it is that you missed, probably your communication or quality wasn’t on point.

Sometimes though, it simply isn’t your fault and if the client isn’t willing to change it, then let the matter go.

If you stay within the precincts of the discussed topics, then it’s unlikely that your Upwork account will be suspended.

Other reasons why your account may be suspended may be due to a policy violation, such as entering your contact address on your profile, having more than one Upwork account.

Client Account Suspensions

On the other hand, if you thought Upwork account suspensions only affect freelancers, then you’ve been wrong all along.

If Upwork was an office, you would occasionally see some clients being grabbed by the collar, dragged across the open offices and kicked onto the dirt outside, with their papers and coins scattering in all directions.

Here are 3 reasons why client accounts are terminated on Upwork:

1. Paying Freelancers Outside The Upwork Platform

If a freelancer is found getting paid outside Upwork, their accounts are suspended. The client is not spared either since this is an act that requires two parties.

However, Upwork might investigate to reveal who initiated the process.

If the client gave the freelancer outside payment as a condition for work, the freelancer might be reinstated as the client leaves for good.

2. Giving Unfair Feedback

Like I mentioned earlier, some people will just mess up your ratings for no good reason.

In fact, some individuals are known culprits on Upwork who give freelancers bad ratings regardless of good or bad work presented.

Luckily for us, Upwork collects complaints about unfair feedback from freelancers. If, upon analysis, the client is proven to be maliciously spoiling workers’ ratings, they are suspended. Nobody needs that kind of negativity!

3. Fraudulent Activity

If you’ve been working online for some time, you must have heard freelancers complaining of their work being rejected by clients. Well, this happens all the time and we get used to it.

But it could get worse.

Sometimes clients reject your work only to upload it later on their site. That could literally blow your head off!

Make it a habit of checking for your rejected jobs online. If you ever have a reason to believe and prove that the client refused to pay you but still used the work, report to Upwork support immediately.

How to Recover  A Suspended Upwork Account

Unless it’s a grave error like getting paid outside the Upwork platform, there are situations where you can get back your account.

The key is in giving your side of the story.  Sometimes you will need to send follow up emails daily. The Upwork community is a great way to follow up on the issue, as the moderators there are highly responsive. The Upwork Facebook page is a good place to follow up too.

Final Word

As a freelancer, you have to be resilient. If you believe that Upwork has suspended you unfairly, have the courage to confront them.

At times it can take quite a while for these issues to be resolved so patience is needed – always stay professional and gather all evidence from your side and be ready to present it.

If your account is not reinstated, do not sulk or quit freelancing. There is life beyond Upwork.

It is important for freelancers to diversify, and not to rely on one site or one client.

Even as you enjoy your stay on Upwork, make sure that you register on other sites, such as Guru, PeoplePerHour, Fiverr, or better yet, start your own blog. You can also come up with a list of potential clients that you’d like to contact and send emails to them, informing them about your freelancing services (also called cold pitching).

Find some ways to make passive online income too.

That way, you’ll be cushioning the ground in the event of an unplanned fall.

Recommended Read: Hack Upwork: How to Make Real Money as a Freelancer: Work From Home and Create a Thriving Freelance Business 100% Online (Hacks to Create a New Future Series Book 2)

Over to you. Has your Upwork account ever been suspended? What would you do if it was?

About the author

Virginia Nakitari is a work from home mom passionate about making money online. She's here to show you legitimate companies offering full-time, part-time and remote jobs from home! Stay tuned!

  • my grilling monster was suspended end of last year for reason number 3. This is a great message for me as I only sent one mail and never followed up.

  • Very timely content. People should stop losing their Upwork accounts after reading this one. What I liked most is the large font you use in your posts.

  • Hello Sheeroh,

    Thanks for the post. My account just got suspended. Was looking for answers online and I came across your post. Nice writeup

  • Hi Sheeroh,

    Gladly I came across this post. Sadly my Upwork account is suspended. Reason, I dint earn any amount from the word go. But I have gone through your blog, learned something and corrected my mistakes. Now am ready to filled an appeal which am sure my account will be reinstated.

    Many thanks for you good job, keep it going.

    God bless you

    • So sorry to hear that. Don’t be discouraged but keep moving forward. There are many other freelancing opportunities out there.

  • Hey there!

    It’s truly sad Upwork is going down. I used to love that platform back when the name was oDesk and they had a really good approach towards the freelancers. But now after having my share of frustration and getting my nerves upside down trying to figure out what the heck happened and why they suspended me for no reason, I decided to move on and have a wonderful freelancing journey far from the Upwork platform.

    • I love your attitude Cristina. To be honest, Upwork isn’t the ‘be all end all’ of freelancing. There are many more awesome and well-paying opportunities out there, if only we are willing to dig a little.

  • I have moved on from Upwork and have a better professional life. At the end of the day I do not know why my account was suspended. However, I still confronted the upwork team with my arguments below:

    – Upwork cannot determine what I must/will/can earn based on the​ premise that​ their matching algorithms/teams have not been able to generate enough business for me

    – I was inactive on Upwork’s website for over a year and their scripts/bots/teams did not bother to close my account, now when I turned to freelancing they suspended my account. I applied for 8 jobs over a period of three weeks and had $10 in my account before getting suspended.

    – They wanted me to appeal. For what? for doing nothing and getting suspended? Is that even ethical?

    They still don’t have an answer to my questions. Will I return? never.

    • So sorry to hear that GS. It can be very frustrating. They closed a bunch of Upwork accounts last week. The important thing is to diversify and not put all your eggs in one basket. All the best in your new endeavors.

  • A very informative post on an issue that is currently causing uncertainty within the freelancing industry.
    Diversify is the word that comes to mind. People should avoid putting all their eggs in one basket.

  • Hi Sherooh, Thanks for the tip, Just enrolled for an Upwork account. Well enlightened and confident on how to go about,am sure i will let you know how it goes.

  • If account is suspended and you have pending amount in escrow, can you still do a financial transaction and transfer the money?

  • Nice post, Sheeroh. Unfortunately, Upwork has shut their door to freelancers now. Freelancers can’t open an account easily again but I did just last month and I was amazed. I was lucky because my third proposal won me a long-term contract. There’s money on Upwork 🙂

    I helped 2 other freelancers in opening one.

    Few tricks worked *wink* If you have any problem in opening one, message me.

    • Hi
      Could you please tell me if I can make another account from different email id, ?
      Recently I got suspended from Upwork for sending too many proposals( 10 proposals, if thats too many, and had 2 active candidacy, I thought its an average ratio).

    • Hey same problem here! My account was suspended, I don’t know what to do because I’ve received a contract from a new client but since there’s only 7 days to accept the offer, and my account encountered that suspension I wasn’t able to accept it on time. How can I get back to my account? 🙁

    • Hello. An employer just emailed me asking for my upwork profile so he can send a job offer. However, my upwork account has been suspended indefinitely. Can I still receive the job offer even if the account is suspended? Any advice on what to do?

    • Yes, I too have been suspended from Upwork, and they won’t say why. I figured it was a success ratio. I am a voice artist with many years experience. It is a joke.
      I don’t even know why I am bothering with this. But, I have earned some money and I have enjoyed it…until now. Before I quit. any advice?

  • I could not find better answers in upwork, you did a great work explaining this thing.
    Thank you so much! My account was suspended today and the worst is that I cannot delete my account, I do not want to let them keep my information it’s not fair they can use my data and I cannot use the platform. It’s a shame they don’t let me do that, just because they want to count me as a user to inflate their statistics.

  • Nice info! I am an upwork freelancer too that got suspended for sending too many proposals. They really are idiots. They considered me as “not successful freelancer” that’s why i got suspended. Fuck them! How can they consider me as not successful after just days I completed a contract with the rating of 4.8 before i got suspended. I had completed other contract before that contract. They really don’t deserve to be used as a platform for freelancing. I suggest, go out of upwork and try to negotiate via skype to avoid getting suspended unreasonably. But be aware of the scammers.

    • Completely agree with you. They suspended my account just before 2 days for applying for too many jobs. I just got paid for my previous contract yesterday. I have this account from past 10 years. I have never breached any contract or gone against any of their policy. This clearly shows how stupid the the upwork people are who doesn’t even know the reasoning behind their act.

  • I suspension happens and market place also reject your plea what else can I do.Is there any way of requesting upwork to reconsider their decision.I have been working in upwork for the last 5 years and doing well and suddenly I find that my account is suspended.I find it ridiculous.What to do.

  • I am also fed up with upwork. First they suspended my elance account of over 8 years with good ratings. Now they did it again citing I violated terms. I have been freelanced way before they came on the scene and lead major writing projects. Its idiotic to remove persons from their accounts without proper proof or justification. I’ll take my business elsewhere.

  • Every Freelancing platform has it’s own terms of service and serious consequence for breaching the terms. However, there should be open lines of communication in serious cases such as account suspensions. I also agree with those who talked about diversification because the risks are high.

    • Today I got a message

      “ Thank you for your email.

      We’ve reviewed all of the information you provided, but will not be reinstating your account. The decision is final and your account is permanently deactivated. I understand this is not the outcome you were hoping for.

      Please know we are unlikely to respond to further correspondence regarding this matter.”

      It was okay to terminate my account if I violated any rules. But I didn’t violate any. And you can check the mail they sent me, they didn’t even mention what’s the cause to terminate the account.
      This is like dictatorship. Maybe they don’t like my photo, maybe they don’t like my nationality, so one of their team members can close my account without explanation.

      I don’t encourage any other freelancer to make career on this site. You better try some other sites and try to create your brand.

  • Recently I decided to try myself at the appliance. Registered, passed verification, everything is as it should, passed tests. Pretty quickly I found a couple of first orders, successfully completed them and received good reviews. Everything seemed to be cool, a good start, a cool place, and everything are convenient. But one day a ban flies to me. I wrote in those. support with questions for which the ban, because I followed absolutely all the rules of the site, and really did not even have time to work. Further, at their request, he provided documents, described the situation (by the way, they respond extremely long time every 3-4 days 1 message), as a result, the ban was not removed without explanation. I don’t advise anyone to start a career on this site, since you can lose your main income at one point, without explaining the reasons. My ban request is 27457293.

  • I was suspended because of 5 dollars one client wanted to send me for the participation in one contest. He asked me for my PayPal and I sent it. I was very exsorsted after sleepless night working and I did not think straight. Cetainly I would not cheat UW for this amount. Now I am banned forever as I got life sentence without parole for stilling chocolate bar.

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