I friend of mine connected me with a job to create a computer program, given a set of specifications. My only point of contact was an anonymous email address (e.g. [email protected] ). They never mentioned their name/the company's name. The pay was discussed before the work started, but no contract was signed. I learned from this mistake. The program is now complete and when I told them this, they asked for the following information. They say it's to prepare the "paper work" for me:

  1. My full name
  2. My telephone number
  3. My full address
  4. A scanned copy of my driver's license or passport

Are all of these a normal request? I do not know any of this about the client, which gives me a bad gut feeling. My name and telephone number are reasonable, maybe even my address, but a copy of my id seems ridiculous, especially not knowing who they are. What risks are associated if I provide them with this information? If they don't pay me for the program, I actually wouldn't be that upset and would just make it open source and use it to showcase my work to potential employers. But of course I'd still like to get paid. What is the best way to respond to the email asking me for these things? I'm thinking of:

Could you first provide me with your name, the company your represent, it's telephone number and mailing address so I can provide you an official invoice?


Asking why they need my address and a copy of my id.


Asking them to provide this information about themselves first.

I’m in Canada and they said they consider me a "subcontractor". I don't know what country they are in. What information in specific should I get from them before proceeding? Even if I did find them to be a legit company, in contractor scenarios is it still normal to send a copy of your id by email?

UPDATE: turned out the individual is not with a company and working for himself. He has agreed to sign a contract we are currently discussing. I'm still undecided about sending him a copy of my id.

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    if you are a "Sub Contractor" then they should not need any information. The prime contractor would be responsible for all of that. Commented Sep 20, 2017 at 14:14
  • It can be legit. From Canada, the first time a customer asked for my NAS for a personal job, I declined, the customer send me a link redirecting to the Canada government website; the customer need those information to produce a declaration for our government. I finally shared my NAS. It did not surprised when another customer asked for it. From now on, I expect the customer to ask for this information in order to receive my payment, but I would be reluctant to share those information to a customer that I do not know.
    – Tom Sawyer
    Commented Sep 20, 2017 at 15:04
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    A warning for the future: due to export restrictions, it can be illegal to do work for persons or companies in certain countries. Ignorance of their location would not spare you from the consequences.
    – Eric
    Commented Sep 20, 2017 at 18:12
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    I think the right time to ask yourself if this company was legit was BEFORE completing work for them. I think you should now ask for many details from them before sending anything of yours. The worse that could now happen is that you don't get paid, which is actually the same from the start.
    – Laurent S.
    Commented Sep 20, 2017 at 18:16

6 Answers 6


Most likely scenario is you have been scammed.

Legit companies even tiny ones will usually have at least have a company name and some sort of signature on their gmail account if nothing else.

Ask them for their company details and who to send the invoice to before giving any more information about yourself, and see if your 'friend' knows anything about them.

  • In a sense, is it more fair for the company to provide this information first? I don't want to get into the game of "you go first! no, you go first!" Commented Sep 20, 2017 at 12:12
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    @CannonParrot Basic company details should not be sensitive information, especially not for people contracting for the company. The same can not be said about your identifying documents and possibly a home address. Commented Sep 20, 2017 at 12:17
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    @CannonParrot It's not a game, there is nothing normal about this situation, protect yourself until you have reasonable proof that you're actually going to get paid.
    – Kilisi
    Commented Sep 20, 2017 at 12:30
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    @CannonParrot: After they finally tell you who they are you just do some simple research. For example, if they say they are Microsoft and give an address - look up the phone number from the internet. Call it, ask for the person you are working for and see if they actually exist.
    – NotMe
    Commented Sep 20, 2017 at 13:57
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    Once you have their details you look up the company through a secondary channel, including verifying their legitimacy, then use the contact details from that channel to contact them about the job, how to get paid, and the information they might require.
    – Stig Tore
    Commented Sep 20, 2017 at 13:57

Either this so-called friend of yours is no friend, or you're very inexperienced.

You cannot ever, ever, EVER take on work without knowing the following:

  1. For fixed-price work, the exact scope of the work, and the exact amount that the client has agreed to pay you (a) for the entire project or (b) for specific deliverables ("milestones")
  2. For work by-the-hour, the hourly rate at which the client has agreed to pay you BEFORE you start the work.
  3. The name, address, country, and legal status (sole proprietorship, corporation, LLC, partnership) of the party that is contracting the work. Get at least one name of a contact person, and a phone number.
  4. The exact capacity in which you will be performing the work (bona fide employee, or contractor)

This is a bare minimum.

Now at this point, you might be dealing with a party that is working with good intentions, or you might be dealing with some bad-guys. Before you turn over ANY of the requested information, find out who you're dealing with. Get informed. When you receive that information, do your best to VERIFY the information. If it looks sketchy, STOP. If the other party won't provide any concrete information, STOP WORKING and don't turn over anything you've created until that changes.

Since you don't know the other party and apparently don't have a written contract, your legal standing to collect any funds for the work you've done is questionable. In the future, don't do any serious work without a written contract that includes the details I've shared above. This will save you plenty of headaches.


You need to find out more information about the other party before you can give this information, especially the scan of your driving licence or passport. Where are you based and where is the company based? Why do they say they need this information?

It's possible it's a scammer trying to steal your identity, although it seems a bit of an elaborate way of getting passport details. It could also be someone working for a medium to large company who commissioned you on his own, but now you're ready to be paid he has had to get the finance department involved, and that's highlighted some documentation that needs to be completed. For example in the UK it is standard practise for employers to photo copy their employees' passports as proof that the employee has a right to work in the UK.

  • 1
    In the USA the company would send a W-9 form for the contractor/sub contractor to complete and return. Canada though... is a completely different story.
    – NotMe
    Commented Sep 20, 2017 at 14:17
  • in Canada, if a company is paying you for a job and you are not under a corporation, you have to provide your NAS and the company that hired you will send you a T4A form at the beginning of the year so you can include it for your taxes.
    – Tom Sawyer
    Commented Sep 20, 2017 at 14:52
  • A medium to large company would have a website, corporate emails and paperwork before getting the job done
    – Laurent S.
    Commented Sep 20, 2017 at 18:11
  • @LaurentS The company would, but it's quite possible an employee could be deliberately avoiding those in order to get a project done without his superiors knowing about it.
    – thelem
    Commented Sep 21, 2017 at 10:56

I have to say this is one of the weirdest questions I've read, and the level of paranoia seems a bit high.

You don't know anything about this employer, but so far they also don't know anything about you (apparently). If they were actually planning to "scam" you, I think they would have asked for your personal details at the start of your working arrangement, then disappeared. I also don't understand why you think they aren't going to pay you for the work. They are still responding to your emails, etc. right?

This whole scenario just sounds like a bizarrely informal arrangement on both sides.

Anyway, I see no reason to NOT give them the information they requested. I can't quite work out how they might pay you at all if they don't have your full name and address, at least. I would probably use the driver's license for ID instead of the passport, and if you're extra paranoid, you could blank out the ID number on it.

I just don't see the danger sharing what is basically public information. If you want to know more about the company, why not just ask them for their details? I think you really should do that anyway, for your basic recordkeeping if nothing else.

  • 1
    with the number blacked out? really? what is someone going to do with that?
    – user77192
    Commented Sep 21, 2017 at 8:55
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    well that's a different topic - the whole thing is bizarre and rather absurd. But asking for contact details is not bizarre at all. And while I don't know how things work in Canada, in the US you most definitely cannot take loans, etc without the victim's ssn. Period. A DL is grossly insufficient. Is Canada really so lax that your plan would work there?
    – user77192
    Commented Sep 21, 2017 at 9:05
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    come on. don't be argumentative. you don't like my answer, fine. put all of these suggestions in YOUR answer, ok?
    – user77192
    Commented Sep 21, 2017 at 9:15
  • they can pay you using paypal if you have an account, no need for a bunch of personal details, I pay people who's name I don't even know let alone their address using paypal.
    – Kilisi
    Commented Sep 21, 2017 at 11:25
  • @Killsi your statement is true, and depending of country, if you hire someone in the same country as your, you can get a fine from the government because of undeclared work. At the end of the year, you need the corporate ID or the NAS of everyone/organization which you have send money to declare it to the government.
    – Tom Sawyer
    Commented Sep 21, 2017 at 11:37

You are in the process of being scammed. This looks like an attempt at identity theft.

The combination of your Government ID + mailing address means they can start applying for loans, credit cards, and all sorts of things and intercept your mail physically, then activate them and proceed to screw you over.


This seems very unprofessional but what they're asking for could easily be within the realm of what the tax authorities there need--if they're going to send out a check they need a record of who it was sent to in case they are audited.

The request isn't compliant with the US rules--here they would need an IRS form that has name, business name if any, address and tax ID number.

Most of my former employers have a copy of my passport--while the usual is driver's license + social security card a passport is also acceptable and has always been easier for me to locate.

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