With my work background, I have had a lot of exposure to the types of scams out there but since running my own company, I’ve noticed a lot more other types of scams that target businesses in ways I hadn’t seen before. The following are a couple of ones that could affect you!
Online business directory: this one basically offers you a chance to have your company listed and advertised on a online directory for businesses but after payment, you notice that you aren’t listed or advertised.
This is a difficult one to find out is a scam. So what kind of things can you do? Before purchasing the listing, do some quick research. Does the website name match the FAQ details? When you do a Google search on the directory name, do you get any results for the same domain? Do they have a Facebook, and if so, what are other people saying on their page?
I was made aware of this one when another VA raised concerns that she thought one of her clients had fallen prey to a scam. With some quick research by myself and other VAs, we came to the conclusion that things didn’t add up and that it was likely to be a scam. Those three questions I asked above helped to shape the decision.
Domain Registrar: “we have a company ‘XYZ’ who have requested to purchase these domains which we noticed are close to your own” with a list of around 10 domains with various endings (eg. theofficemaven.asia, theofficemaven.com etc.). They then ask you if the company is associated with you and if not, claim that you have the chance to purchase them before they proceed with the application that ‘XYZ’ has put forward.
I’ve had exposure to this one in the past but it came up again recently when I received an email affecting my business name. Basically, it comes down to there not actually being this other company wanting your company name in their domains. So why are they doing this? Fear and urgency are great motivators, especially for companies who are either just trying to build their brand or trying to protect their brand. Protecting your brand is important and so when you think something might ruin it, you try to stop it from occurring.
In the end, if you were to follow the actions mentioned in the email, you would be purchasing multiple domains that were never under threat. The domain registrar ends up with extra clients without needing to advertise themselves… if the domain registrar even exists. Otherwise they end up with your money and you end up with nothing.
So what can you do? In both these situations, there is always a chance to get your money back if you do fall for it and realise within a short time frame. Call your bank (or notify PayPal) to get advice. You might be able to lodge a dispute if it falls within certain time frames. Normally these can be done within 3 months, but talking to your bank/PayPal ensures you can act within their guidelines. Also, report it to sites such as http://www.scamwatch.gov.au/.
If you do receive an email featuring something you think is either too good to be true or seems suspicious, the first thing to do is some research. Just because I used these two as examples of scams, doesn’t mean that there are legitimate companies who might be trying to market their services to you. Look at ScamWatch, do Google searches etc. Be comfortable with the purchase before making it.