A chargeback is what happens when someone contacts their bank and asks them to reverse a payment they already made.

When this happens, the bank or credit card company lets us know and we’re required to give them more information related to the charge.

Sometimes, clients file chargebacks when they feel they’ve received inadequate work; other times the freelancers haven’t done anything wrong and the client is trying to get out of paying for the services they requested and received. Chargebacks are against our Terms of Service, and if someone files a chargeback on work you’ve done, we’ll work together to resolve the issue.

What happens if my client files a chargeback?

If any action is required from you, we will let you know through email. If you qualify for Upwork Payment Protection, your funds will be protected, though we may ask for your help in proving the validity of the charge.

If we review the matter and determine you don’t qualify for Upwork Payment Protection, we’ll reach out to discuss your options. At times, we may require you to return the reversed amount and place a hold on your account until you are able to do so. Additionally, we will file a dispute with the bank or credit card issuer - any evidence you have to show you provided the client with the services they requested will help us argue the dispute. Ultimately, the decision on whether to uphold the chargeback is with the financial institution. If we prove that the charges were valid, then any holds on your account will be lifted and any reversed funds will be returned.

Since chargebacks are against our Terms of Service, clients who reverse a payment will have their Upwork account suspended.

How to avoid chargebacks

To avoid chargebacks, consider the following tips:

  • Establish good communication practices upfront. When you begin a contract, make sure to set clear expectations of the work you’re doing and the timeline in which you’ll complete it.
  • Communicate with your client if you can’t meet work or timing demands. If something happens that may change expectations (like a timing or equipment issue), let them know right away.
  • Never “ghost” a client. If you can’t complete the work, you can issue a refund.
  • If a client is upset, try your best to work together to come to a resolution. It’s not okay to abandon a project without letting them know.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does Upwork Payment Protection protect me during chargebacks?

Yes, if you qualify for Upwork Payment Protection, your funds will be protected during a chargeback.

I’m involved in a chargeback and I don’t qualify for Upwork Payment Protection. Now what?

We’ll email you with next steps. In the meantime, you may be blocked from withdrawing funds.

Why wasn’t I notified about a chargeback?

You won’t be notified about a chargeback if the following occurs:

  • If the chargeback is filed on a contract where funds are still in escrow, we will remove the funds from escrow. Because no action is required from you, you won’t be notified
  • If your account is suspended, you won’t receive any notifications regarding your account (including any notifications about chargebacks)

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