Scammers have been around for ages, but with the explosion of the internet, they have taken their scams to new heights. Among the most common targets for scammers, unfortunately, are business owners.
Using a tactful combination of fear and confusion, scammers have it down to a science when it comes to ripping a business owner off. Below are a few examples of common angles that are taken by modern scammers in an effort to swindle business owners of their hard earned money. Though there are many other scams out there at the moment, these are a few we’ve been hearing about from the business owners we work with.
Domain Renewal Schemes (‘Who’s Who’ Scam): One of the most prized tools for any business owner is their website and domain. It’s where their entire story is and is the best way for them to educate potential customers, short of a face-to-face conversation. So, the thought of their website being taken down is among their worst nightmares, and shady companies and scammers are well aware of this.
The example below shows a company who reached out to one of our customers and pretended to be in charge of their domain name. The company required payment to prevent their domain from being taken down. The worst part was that they had no authority to do anything to their domain. This “who’s who” scam was merely attempting to capitalize on a business owner’s fear and potential lack of knowledge regarding their domain provider.
One easy-to-spot sign of a scam when it comes to digital marketing is when the solicitation is sent via snail mail. The example above was sent via physical copy to the business owner’s address, not their email. Most official notices these days will come via email.
This particular customer of ours was wise enough to recognize something was off and sent the message to us. Their Account Manager was then able to investigate the notice and company to verify that it was indeed an attempted scam. Certainly, this is a perfect example of how beneficial it can be to have a professional in your corner as a business owner when it comes to digital marketing efforts. It’s not the first time we’ve seen something like this, and it won’t be the last.
Website Inefficiency Claims: Another one of the more common schemes is to receive an email which claims that your business’ website (notice the theme with websites?) is broken or ineffective and that they have the services to fix said issues. Though claims like this can certainly be true, many schemers blindly make claims that they could never know unless they had back-end access to your website or analytics (which they don’t). Without login information to your website, it is impossible for someone to have that sort of information.
A lot of time, these types of schemes come from randomly generated emails that start with something along the lines of “Hello! Hope you are doing well.” or “Hi there, I have some ideas I want to run past you.” Notice how these intros in no way address the owner by name. The vagueness in emails like this is an easy way to spot a scam.
Pretending to Be Facebook or Google: There’s no better place online these days to drive traffic to your website than Facebook and Google. Between targeted advertising and engaging content, it’s no wonder so many businesses have flocked to both platforms. Unfortunately, scammers are aware of this and haven’t hesitated to try and take advantage.
Many of our customers have reported getting messaged or even called by people claiming to work with, or be, Facebook or Google. The scammers say that maybe your account is in violation and they need your information to adjust it or to continue to deliver it.
Additionally, scammers can often see which businesses are advertising on Facebook and Google and may even message you saying that changes were made to your account and that you must re-send them your payment methods.
Remember, just the name “Google” or “Facebook” alone doesn’t mean that it’s official. When in doubt, reach out to Google or Facebook’s actual customer service. If you are a NEXT Ad Agency customer, you may also relay the info to your Account Manager for their input.
We really can’t stress enough the importance of communicating with a verified professional before giving away any of your personal information. If you sense something is off, chances are you are right.
Follow this link to view Google’s official scam page.
I hope the info above is helpful. Unfortunately, this is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to digital scams.