Now more than any time before there are scammers out there looking to make a quick buck off your business. With so many people working from home, the number of scams has been on the rise. And it is even harder to identify them because they seem legit.
In this article, I will cover some common scams I have heard of and give you some tips to deal with these scams. There is never a way to stop new scams from coming, but there are ways to handle them better.
The biggest key is to remember if it sounds too good to be true, it always is. Let’s get started.
SPAM / SCAM Emails
One of the most common scare types of spam emails are ones telling you your domain, website or email is expiring. Also common are the ones telling you those services have problems.
For example, a client recently forwarded me a scam email. This email let them know their email box was full and they needed to click a link to manage their email space. They tried to make it look legit like the email came from the email system. Lucky for the client the business the scammer used was not the right email provider.
The key to dealing with these types of emails is to delete them. DO NOT ever respond. If you are even unsure if an email about your services is legit, the best solution is to call your provider. Ask them about the email.
Another common email threatens you with stealing photos or content from another person. They make claims that they have all the proof they need. It tends to give you so much time to correct before they seek legal action. A document of proof is also provided.
This document is normally full of viruses or links to malicious sites. Under no circumstances should you open a document you were not expecting. The first step to dealing with this is to audit yourself. Did you use someone else’s images? If so, did you get them from a trusted source? Make sure you have permission to use everything you have and remove anything you don’t.
There is a process for a DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) takedown request. And that process details what communication must take place. It also covers how to verify complaints. It might cost more, but you should seek legal counsel to protect yourself if you think a request is legit. If you have no content that you don’t have the rights to, 9 out of 10 times you don’t even need to bother and can ignore it.
I have seen these emails come to clients over photos when the client took all their photos. Remember to ALWAYS make notes of where you get content from when you got it. I also recommend noting down what the license terms of the content were when you got it.
Just like the vehicle warranty calls, there are tons of spam calls for businesses.
The most common of these is about your Google listing or claims to get you to page one. These are not legit. Google does not hire a team of people to call every business 8000 times to ‘verify’ their Google listing.
In every case that I have seen Google calling to verify, it was user-initiated. Unless you are paying someone to manage your Google listing no one will call or email you to verify a listing. Google likes to send postcards to make sure you are real anyway.
Every business website is subject to the whims of Google and good SEO practices. NO ONE can guarantee you a spot on the first page. These are all scams. Even if they manage to get you to page one quickly, it rarely lasts and can hurt your business more than do good.
Good SEO takes time and effort on your part through new content, an updated website, and proper research. There are no shortcuts to page one. You should ignore anything telling you otherwise.
Also somewhat common are phone calls about late utility payments. When in doubt, take the caller’s information and call back number. Then hang up and call your provider. If the call was legit, they will be able to give you the same information and help you. But always start the call yourself. NEVER pay a random person who calls you.
Phone numbers are crazy easy to spoof. I have even received a call from a friend’s number to my business line and it was a scammer.
Other common scams
Here is a small list of other scams and spam emails I have seen. And I doubt this list is in any way complete.
- Emails claiming your Paypal or Stripe account is suspended.
- Emails wanting you to complete an action to continue services. Verify the claims with your actual providers. ICANN sends legit emails like this, but you can do this from your domain registrar account.
- People asking you to partner with them for more traffic, followers, etc.
- People asking to put links or content on your site. Some of these can be legit, but unless you are a big-time blogger, they are probably trying to scam you. If you are questioning, do your research.
- Any emails offer you money, especially that you can’t account for such as orders.
- Emails or calls about errors harming your website rank. Or ones about your website causing a problem with their website.
Remember, when in doubt, always verify with your actual providers. Do not reply to emails you don’t know. They want to get a response so they know your address works and can spam you more. Never give any details, business or personal, without verifying the request.
A note on contact forms
If you are seeing emails coming from your website that has spam content DO NOT mark these emails as spam. You will only hurt legit contact requests from your site. The best case is to delete these and harden your contact form security.
If you would like help doing this, either give us a call or contact us and we can get your squared away. I have many tools in my arsenal to combat spam.
Spam and scammers suck and it’s not going to get better anytime soon. Even as new laws against spam come out, the problem will not go away. If the scammers did not follow the law before, they certainly won’t later. No new law is going to give them a conscience. It takes a little proactive care on your part. But you can keep this annoyance from destroying your day or stealing money and time from you.