This post is part of a series of freelancer stories about waiting to get paid -- or never getting paid at all.

Presently 77% of freelancers have trouble getting paid by their clients and, on average, each unpaid freelancers is owed over $6,000 in income.

Read on for first-person accounts from Freelancer Union members facing this issue -- and their thoughts on how to solve it. Share your story here.

Rafi Bernstein: Graphic Designer / Web Design
Freelancing for: 10 years
Total amount owed: $1,500

**The client kept on telling me the check was in the mail. ** On good faith and in order to get the job moving, I had my developer code the site live.

When it became evident that the client was leading me on, I had my developer change all the passwords and take down the site. What really hurt was that I had to pay the developer out of pocket.

Lesson learned - I do not start work before getting the retainer and make them sign contracts when I can.

This is the worst experience, but it’s not the only one: I have had to run after a couple of clients for money.

And the most egregious thing a client has said to me about payment? “This isn’t your full time job, this is just a side job, so why do I need to pay you?”

Even the most experienced freelancers face nonpayment. A system that requires independent workers to second-guess every potential client and leaves freelancers vulnerable to wage theft is a broken system. How far are you willing to let it go? Share your nonpayment story here.