How to Spot a Scam

Tech | Entrepreneur Life

There are A LOT of internet scams out there. And *usually* they are pretty obvious and we know to delete the emails from the Nigerian Prince offering us a million dollars and a yacht. But some of these scams look like opportunities, and some of them play to our fears. 

There has been one scam circulating for a few years that had actually worked on some of my clients. It is someone posing as a photographer or lawyer stating that the images on your website have infringed on their Copywrite, and to *click this link* to view them. And we can all assume that nothing GOOD happens to your computer or phone when you click a stranger’s link.

*Side note: always consider clicking or downloading info from strangers on the internet as equivalent to taking candy from a stranger in a panel van, down by the river. Don’t do it.*

It’s the FEAR that we’ve done something wrong that catches good, smart people off guard. We have a FEAR of doing something wrong and getting in legal trouble. This email even threatens legal action taking the fear quotient to a whole new level.

Fear is best slayed with knowledge and information. Knowing what to look for can keep you safe. The internet is a wonderful place for sharing and connection, but it also is a dangerous place of liars and traps. Stay sharp, people! 

I am by no means the world’s foremost expert in internet scams. But I have run an internet-based company designing and developing digital assets – like websites, graphics, and content – for small businesses for 5 years. I’ve come across a lot of convincing emails, scams, & phishing attempts between myself and my clients. I’d like to think I can share a few tips on this topic. 

But overall, here are the things I look for:

  • Grammar and spelling. Yes, I have *on occasion* sent a few emails that wouldn’t pass 9th-grade English class. But I’m talking about communication from a stranger, especially one with an ‘opportunity or even a new business lead. If the language looks like it’s been through Google translate too many times, it probably has.
  • Too good to be true. ‘Hi, I would like to pay for your services upfront. Please send me your banking info for a transfer’ <<< DEFINITELY a scam. 
  • Logos or images that look distorted or just not quite right. 
  • Lots of small links around an unsubscribe link at the bottom. Scammers are hoping you click the wrong one. 
  • Remember- anyone can mask their email address to look like someone else. If I wanted to email you as your Grandma or high school principal, I could do it. 

What to do if you get these:

  • If you run into this via email or direct message- you can block them! 
  • NEVER I mean NEVER click the link, respond, send your banking info, tell them your kids’ names, or reveal anything else personal. They can use that info to attempt to hack your website, email, or social.
  • Not sure about an ‘opportunity? Google the text of the email. You will probably find some internet forum where someone complains about the same scam. 

Remember, the internet is not some safe rainbows and unicorns filled land of enchantment and honesty. But it is necessary for modern life, business, and communication. It is a tool to be used carefully. 

Please share this information with your friends, neighbors, and fellow business owners. Knowledge is power! 

Kate