Avoiding Scams as a New Website Owner
Scam artists irritate me. Nothing worse than someone trying to take advantage of another is there? It makes me sad to think that people fall for these scams and are hurt by them.
Today I got an official looking letter in the mail. It looked like a bill.
I was immediately reminded of a web design client of mine from back when I was starting out. He called me one day, frantic and angry. I later found out that he also got a letter from one of these scams.
Sometimes Junk Mail Looks Official
“Why do I have to pay $80? I thought you said all I had to pay for that name thing was $12. Why is it now $80? I don’t have $80. You should have told me!”
His questions and tone confused me. $80? What is he talking about?
It turns out he got some official looking bill in the mail, like this one I just got in the mail myself.
Here’s the thing. When you put yourself out there as a writer, website owner, or even as an organizer of some event, you will get scams targeting you. You can count on it.
Sometimes it even happens without being a business owner. Scams targeted a friend, pretending to be Microsoft. Now she’s completely locked out of her computer because she fell for it.
Don’t Fall For Scams: 6 Tips
How do you avoid scams? Here are a few tips:
1. Know Who You Deal With
I know that my domain name is through Namecheap.com. Therefore, when a company like iDNS is trying to pretend like I need to pay them a bunch of money for my otherwise cheap domain, I know to ignore it.
By knowing what companies you deal with for different aspects of your business, such as your domain name, your web hosting, and so forth, you can avoid falling for these kinds of scams.
I recommend keeping a list in a safe place. On it, write
- the name of each company you use
- what service you use from them
- how much you pay them and how often
- when your payment is due
- your login information
Anytime you are faced with issues like this, refer to your list. If there’s any doubt, contact your actual company to verify your domain is safely registered.
2. Know How Legit Companies Operate
Listen, friends. Microsoft will never call you to tell you there is a problem with your computer. Scam artists will. Don’t give them access to your computer.
Legitimate companies don’t cold call you to tell you they can get you to the front page of Google. Anyone who deals in SEO knows this is a promise you can’t guarantee for anyone.
Legitimate charities don’t email total strangers out of the clear blue sky begging for donations either. If you do anything at all on your blog or website that demonstrates you’re a person of faith, you may get targeted with this one. I have. No one wants to be hard-hearted, but there are many folks out there that take advantage. If you cannot verify what’s going on, personally, don’t. You don’t know what that money is going to.
Legit companies aren’t going to pay you money for sharing things on Facebook. Instead, posts that encourage you to like, share, or otherwise react to trigger a certain action are usually doing this to find new targets.
3. Check the URL When Clicking on Any Link
The URL is the website address. If Paypal is actually sending you an email that something is wrong with your account, the link should go to https://www.paypal.com. If it goes to something like http://www.paypalcom.in or something else, you’re not at the actual Paypal, even if it looks the same. It’s ridiculously easy to fake a website.
By filling out the login information, you’d be giving the scammers your login information. Not good.
My second point also applies here. Know how legit companies operate. When a company like your Bank or Paypal email you, they usually address you. They don’t say, “Dear Valued Customer”. If you are ever in doubt as to whether or not an email is actually from them, go to the website directly, without clicking on the link in an email.
Be sure to always report these scams to the company they were impersonating.
4. Know What You’re Paying For
I think many people fall for scams when they don’t understand what they are paying for, and what the scammer is offering. I’ve had many web design clients who have been contacted by companies offering SEO and Marketing Services, as well as Domain services like this one.
If you don’t really understand what SEO is, and someone is trying to convince you that they are the only way to get to the first page of Google, it sounds tempting.
This may not be a scam, per se, but I think their marketing techniques are disingenuous.
If you don’t understand something enough to know what you’re hiring them to do, don’t do it. If you can’t verify a so-called charities claims, don’t.
5. Take Your Time
When someone is scamming you, they are rarely patient. Part of the hard sell sales technique involves rushing you towards a decision without thinking it through.
I know I post often about procrastination and avoiding procrastination. If there is one area where you should procrastinate, it’s here. If someone is calling you or writing to you to get you to do something you don’t fully understand, ask if you can think about it and look into it further before calling back. Usually, their response will be telling. Most scammers do not like this at all.
6. When In Doubt, Ask
When in doubt, ask someone who does understand these things. As a web designer, I have fielded this question from my clients many times. I don’t mind. If I ever seem exasperated, know that it’s because I hate people trying to take advantage of others.
Barring that, look it up. Google will tell you (for free!) all you could ever want to know about SEO. Given that they are the ones who write the rules on SEO, they are a great source. Their web developer tools (also free) are full of helpful things.