Be Informed. Be Aware. Protect Yourself from Online Scams
One service that I am proud to offer all of my clients is access to my knowledge and resources. It is not uncommon for me to receive emails or phone calls inquiring about the validity of an email or letter mailing received.
I have been meaning to do a blog post about online scams for a while now and with the increasing severity and occurrence of them… here it is. This list is by no means exhaustive, but it will help you in understanding how to evaluate the potential for a scam on your own.
Here are some of my personal favourite scams and how to deal with them:
- The Domain Registry of Canada – Letter Mail. You receive a notice in the mail stating that your domain is up for renewal and if you act now you can save X amount of dollars. SCAM – YES. No one registers there domain with the Domain Registry of Canada. It may look official, but it is definitely fraudulent.What should you do? Throw out the letter. Do not respond or reply. You may get another one in a few years and you may not. They hope that one in every so many get fooled and transfer over their domains to them at an exorbitant price.
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Services – Email. These are probably my least favourite and as a web designer I too get at least a couple of these a week. The emails almost all originate from India and are un-adressed spam mail. They tell you that your site is not optimized properly, that there are errors preventing you from being found on Google, that your site cannot be found in Google or that they can get you on page one.Guess what? These are bold faced lies. This is one of the biggest junk mail offenders right now and when they target Canadian residents they think they can avoid our privacy laws by saying “Note: – – Though this is not an automated email, no spam this is original mail and if you not interested please send a blank mail to email with NO as Subject.” Are you kidding me? They put the onus on us to tell them not to spam us anymore. The only thing you can do with these is to keep reporting it as spam and hope that eventually their address will get blacklisted.
- Computer Virus – Pop Up Window. Have you ever been surfing the internet when all of a sudden a little window pops up saying that you have a virus that needs attention. Click here to fix it now. DO NOT CLICK ANYTHING. There is malware out there that will impersonate notifications that look official, but it is a scare tactic to get you to click on a real virus. If you currently use a “free” anti-virus software, I highly recommend paying the $50 a year for Kaspersky Internet Security. It is low management and highly effective against all sorts of bad stuff.
- Phishing: Invoices for Services – Letter Mail. This is something that I used to run across working in administration, marketing and trade shows from companies located in Europe. It is now affecting targeting unsuspecting businesses everywhere by different origins. PROBLEM – you receive invoices in the mail and follow up phone calls saying you owe money for advertising in a directory. The person calling sounds professional and legitimate, the invoices look real. If you are unsure, Google it. The following companies are fraudulant and should be avoided: Digital solutions, Info submit, and Canada Business Pages Online. Do not send them money, do not provide them with credit card information. Fax their invoices back to them with SCAM written across it in big, bold black marker with a note saying that if they contact you again to request money that you will forward them to the local authorities.
It is my hopes that this post will help prevent you from being scammed online, by phone or mail. A good rule of thumb, as my husband says: if there is any doubt… there is no doubt. Protect yourself and your business.