Receiving very sensitive documents as a translator


Hello Fiverrers!

I’m a translator, and often people contact me to ask me for an offer. Sometimes these people attach the full document that needs to be translated with the first message they send me.
Now, this on its own is no problem of course. But I often see people sending me documents that obviously don’t belong to them, and contain very very private information, like social security numbers, pension decisions and contracts.
What happens most of the time is someone from ******* or ******* sends me a very sensitive document of a Dutch person for example, and they ask me to translate it for a very low price. So I somehow suspect them selling a translation service somewhere else which they try to outsource (which they may do, but the person who sent the document has no idea where all his or her documents are being send to).
I often refuse to translate such sensitive documents. But should I do something else as well? Like report it somewhere?
I’m very interested in hearing your opinion/advice/experiences!

Kind regards,

Mod Note: Country/region reference removed.


Hello, no you shouldn’t report it somewhere. That would be unprofessional. It is your decision on if you are comfortable translating any documents. I think anyone doing translation has an obligation to do the job with utmost privacy of the client in mind. You are not acting as a judge of morals or legality. You are simply providing a discreet service. However as I said, the decision is entirely your own on how to handle your profession.

If you feel strongly that you can’t do something then simply cancel the order. You also can put in your gig that you may not consent to some questionable orders. You however should not report what has been submitted to you. For one thing you have no evidence that there has been a crime committed. For another thing you would be liable legally for disclosing personal information. Finally, you would be breaching the trust placed in you.


You’d be breaking the ToS if you did:
Sellers further confirm that whatever information they receive from the Buyer, which is not public domain, shall be kept confidential and shall not be shared or used for any purpose whatsoever other than for the delivery of the ordered work to the Buyer.

Great - just cancel if you feel uneasy. :slightly_smiling_face:


Maybe I’m missing something, but this sounds like something to report to me. I think it’s pretty safe to assume “******” isn’t Holland. Most likely the original owner of the document has no idea whose hands it’s going through and wouldn’t care to have their information passed on like this.

That doesn’t make sense to me. OP reporting the buyer/order doesn’t mean she’s sharing that confidential information…


If it were reported to Fiverr CS then fair enough but the OP seemed unsure as to whom to report it to:


Someone is selling a translation service and hiring someone to do the actual translation? I suppose you could call 911. I’m joking, but I don’t know who would be interested in that or think it was wrong.


I was assuming that meant report it to CS.

Of course you should be up front with customers but that’s not really the issue. The issue is that’s being done with super personal information entrusted only to the original seller.


That is of no concern of the seller. Either she does it or does not but no one else is going to be interested or get involved. If she cares that much then she can cancel it. We need to think like adults.


Why wouldn’t Fiverr get involved? Passing on that info seems a ToS violation to me…


How would it be a TOS violation? It’s none of her business to try to investigate who the information belongs to. Maybe it belongs to the person who hired her? Why be so curious or so suspicious? She could tell CS and ask to cancel it.

If someone hired her client and passed along personal information there had to be no concern on their part that it was private.


Maybe it does belong to that person, but when (as in the example) it’s a Dutch document and a user from who knows where? Things like that are fishy and I don’t think it bad to be preemptive or cautious. Fiverr is the one who should investigate it and the worst that’ll happen is Fiverr disregards it.


I would stop doing translations if things like that happened regularly and I felt the need to report it to authorities. It’s a violation of the client’s trust and unprofessional.

All types of office workers, secretaries, and clerks see people’s social security numbers or pension information all the time and don’t go reporting it to people as if it’s a big deal. There are huge billing offices and collection agencies, banks, real estate companies, as well as hiring offices that have dozens of people seeing thousands of things like that a day and they don’t feel the need to report it somewhere. It’s part of the job.


This isn’t relevant to your question, but personally, I would never work with sensitive documents on Fiverr.

It’s a legal nightmare because you have no recourse, no protection. You could put a privacy policy in your gig, but there’s no way to prove that disclaimer was there when the buyer purchased the gig and it wouldn’t be legally binding, anyway.


Yes, but would your trust be lost if they passed your stuff along to potentially untraceable people on the internet who have very little at stake? Those companies have reputation and accountability, some shady Fiverr sellers not so much.


I don’t understand what’s the big deal. I oftentimes get documents that are sensitive even before accepting the translation order or not. I find it odd but sometimes happens. Those people know that we aren’t allowed to share any information we get on Fiverr from clients. If we do that, we would break the TOS and maybe even the law.

If the one sending the files is breaking the law, something eventually will shine it to light and that person will suffer the consequences. But outsourcing is something normal, and the only one that risks a lot is the one outsourcing it.

Sure, I understand that is not cool to do that, and in some situations that person might not have the right to share those documents. But untill proven guilty, they are innocent. And we are not the police to investigate. And I doubt the police will care about this unless someone along the line uses that information illegally. If that happens, the one that received the documents will be questioned.

Let’s say I give my documents for translation. I go at the translation office. That translation office might work with freelancers that help them when it’s too much work. If they outsource it, it’s their responsibility to make sure that the person can be trusted. If something happens, I blame them directly. Simple as that.

Many companies work/collaborate with other companies/people to get their job done. If you get in a bus that break down in the middle of the trip, you blame the transportation company, not the manufacturer. It’s their job afterwards to redirect the blame where it belongs. Afterall, they were assured the busses were good to use.

Documenting it is the key to find the guilty ones in cases that something bad happens. I am sure that Fiverr has all the digital info it needs in legal cases.

Oh, and I don’t know what people talk about untraceable. The IP redirects to your own name and address. Unless you are a hacker and you know how to hide online (which is not something easy or accessible), you have nowhere to run from the police. There’s no untraceable this day and age guys. Your phone is transmitting location and data even in airplane mode and without internet active.


And with no way for you to track this information, you’re going to be suspicious of that Fiverr seller you worked with… Working with sensitive documents opens you up to mistrust, even if/when you do nothing wrong.

Also, @misscrystal, I would add that people at those agencies probably also partlly don’t feel inclined to report because they know the institution has systems in place to check those things out and are legally mandated to do that/report, etc. I doubt Fiverr holds itself up to those standards.


No generally no they don’t. I worked with personal information in a company along with many other people and it’s simply normal business. We had all financial information of the most personal nature and that is out there for anyone in companies to see. It’s just normal. If you haven’t encountered this before it seems to be shocking but this is how businesses work. Income levels, social security numbers, everything is out there on paperwork in the open for anyone in the office to see.


I’m talking about external communications, not internal.


Well people aren’t writing down private information and publishing it somewhere. I’m saying that it’s normal to get things like social security numbers, bank account numbers and other such things in many types of businesses. It shouldn’t come as a surprise.


I didn’t mean “writing down private information and publishing somewhere,” either. I was just clarifying my point that I am referring to information that is publicly accessible (external), not sensitive documents laying around an office (internal).