It doesn’t matter how street smart or tech savvy you are…
Online scams happen to everyone. Here’s how to avoid them.
Here at Clarity, we can’t say enough good things about the internet. After all, where else can you order pizza, watch a movie, and learn how great corn is?
Unfortunately, with great entertainment comes some pretty clever online scams.
We’ve all known someone who’s fallen for a scam. There’s a chance you’ve been that person in the past. While this can be embarrassing in the moment, the key is to know how to recognize online scams and subsequently avoid them.
What Are Online Scams?
This might come as a shock to some of you, but you can’t always trust people…especially those who contact you over the internet.
Go ahead and pick your jaw up off the floor.
Scams and con artists have been around since the dawn of time and they keep changing their methods as technology evolves. Now, in addition to mail fraud and Ponzi wannabes, we have to worry about texts and emails from an imaginary Nigerian prince.
Basically, online scams are any attempt to commit fraud using the internet. This could be in the form of phishing emails, catfishing, or hacking software that helps them obtain personal information right off your computer.
Popular Online Scams
The internet is full of shady people. Fortunately for you, a lot of them tend to use the same tactics over and over again, making them fairly easy to spot, once you know what you’re looking for.
Here are a few examples of some of the most popular online scams circulating currently.
This one typically starts as an innocent-sounding query through Google My Business: “Do you take credit cards?” (What business these days doesn’t?)
Here’s where it gets interesting. The potential “client” then offers to pay you twice your normal rate to get more credit card points. All you have to do is write them a check for the difference. Except—you guessed it!—you’re not getting their money and they’ve now got yours.
The Domain Renewal
If you have a website (and you should!) you have a domain. It’s also known as your “web address” for a good reason. You can think of it as the place your site gets its mail.
Just like a lease, your domain needs to be renewed from time to time and there are plenty of scammers who take that opportunity to pull one over on you. You might have fallen for this one in the past, as it’s very sneaky.
You’ll commonly get a notice that your domain needs to be renewed, with an invoice conveniently attached. The problem is that this invoice typically asks for waaaaaaaay too much money. A typical legitimate domain renewal should only run you around $20, so if they’re asking for $250, steer clear.
The Business Guide
As a startup, you might be a little confused about how to set up your business. (Un)luckily for you, there are plenty of scammers who are ready to “help.”
Similar to the domain renewal scam, this one offers you assistance with getting your business registered and getting all the right documentation, but at a much higher cost than just going directly to the relevant site.
How To Avoid Them
We all like to think we could spot a scam a mile away, but there’s a reason con artists still exist. They can be really tough to spot! Here are some tips to help you avoid online scams in the future.
The first rule to keep in mind: If it sounds too good to be true, it is. This one motto could save you a lot of grief and heartache.
Second, pay attention to your gut and be on the lookout for classic “scammer” red flags:
- Excessive grammar and spelling errors
- Unprofessional website
- Refusing to give you details
- Refusing speak over the phone
- Emails with multiple addressees
Last, but certainly not least, do your research!
Most scammers are counting on you to take the path of least resistance and blindly do whatever they say. If they give you a business name, look it up on Google. If they say they’re from a well-known company, check your account directly on the website. Read reviews to see if others have been scammed by this company before.
One thing to keep in mind, it isn’t just overseas people who are capable of scamming you. It happens right here in the US every single day. Never trust someone just because they speak English!
What To Do If You’ve Been Scammed
First, don’t be afraid to admit you’ve been scammed. Don’t let them get away with it because you’re embarrassed. Everyone has fallen for a scam at some point. (Yes, even us!)
Next, alert any affected banks, credit card companies, and/or accounts to dispute the charge. Most credit card companies (and even Google) have systems in place to report the fraudulent activity and try to remedy the situation.
In this day and age, online scams are rampant but that doesn’t mean they’re unavoidable.
Follow your gut, do your research, and approach all online interactions with a healthy dose of skepticism.
Clarity Creative Group has gotten pretty good at recognizing scams over the years. If you receive a communication that seems off, let us know. And if you’re ready to market your business the right way, give us a call to see how we can help!
Clarity Creative Group is a digital marketing company located in beautiful Orlando, Florida. I know corn is just a big lump with knobs but frankly, I can’t imagine a more beautiful thing.