How to spot scammers

8th Jan 2020

How to spot scammers

8th Jan 2020

We all know there are scammers out there, and we know the basics of keeping our bank accounts and email accounts safe by changing passwords, keeping our PINs a secret, and being suspicious of any emails asking for our details.

But when you have your own website, there are a whole different set of scams that you will come across. They might be trying to sell you some sort of unnecessary upgrade to “improve your site’s online performance”, or they might try the scare tactic of terrible things happening if you don’t “protect your site” with their product.

Some scams are easy to spot – we’ve made a checklist of things to watch for, below – but some are far more sophisticated and may include trustworthy-sounding high-pressure sales calls, and mention legit services such as AdWords, Google, or other well-known names as part of their sales pitch.

Tell-tale signs of basic scams:

  • They use a free email address, e.g. a gmail.com address.
  • Their message is full of grammatical and spelling errors.
  • There is nothing specific about your site in the message.
  • It’s a form message sent to hundreds of people.
  • The name of the person sending you the message isn’t the same as the name in the email address.
  • When you look up the company in the NZ Companies Register, you cannot find it – even though they claim to be a local company

More sophisticated scams

Some sophisticated scams can be hard to spot in the heat of the moment.

Our advice is to give yourself some breathing room. Tell them that you’ll think about their offer and get back to them if you’re interested and hang up the phone.

Then we recommend contacting us here at Turboweb so we can help you assess the situation.

It may be that they are offering something that is already included in your Turboweb website, hosting, and service package, they may have a genuine offer, or it may be that you are being lied to.

Red flags that might mean you’re talking to a scammer

‘We’ll get you onto the first page of Google.’

A classic scammer’s statement. It’s easy to say this, because it’s something that everyone wants. But the offer itself is meaningless unless they can tell you exactly what steps they will take to do that – and provide a written guarantee.

‘Your site only appears in four of these 20 online directories’

Have you ever heard of those other directories yourself? We recently came across this one ourselves, and aside from four or five legitimate directories such as Yelp and Google My Business, the remainder of the list was littered with defunct sites, broken links, and shell sites that looked like basic directories but were really just advertising and data harvesting sites.

‘Your site has no Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)’

Turboweb creates each of our websites with Search Engine Optimisation in mind, and this is one of the main skills of our content writing team. Search engine algorithms change quite frequently and can take time to properly understand a new site. This means that sites that have been live for less than six months will not yet be performing fully, and neither will sites that have been live for four or more years without a content refresh. Contact us if you think this might be a problem for your site and we can chat about solutions.

For example, keeping your website up-to-date with fresh content by using your news and events sections can help search engines to understand that your site is still alive and relevant. Another tip might be to consider adding a FAQs section where you address some of your customer’s frequent questions in an in-depth way. These are the sorts of things that search engines are looking for, because it means they can show your site to people who are searching for particular queries.

‘Your site ranks only four out of ten in our test’

What test? Without knowing what they are testing for, or how they have come up with those numbers, this is likely a meaningless statement. Is there even a test at all? If there is a real test, are the results as bad as they are saying? If you’re concerned, ask them to send you the results of their test and then give us a call. As your hosting company, Turboweb appreciates hearing if we can do better for you if there is something wrong. And if there isn’t, we can save you a lot of stress with a simple phone call.

‘Your site isn’t mobile-friendly’

All of Turboweb’s sites are built to current industry standards, which includes being fully mobile-responsive. You can test your own site with Google's Mobile-Friendly test using this link: https://search.google.com/test/mobile-friendly

If your site has been around for quite a while, it may need some help to get up to the current standards. We would love to have a talk with you about bringing it up to date.

‘Your site has no content management system (CMS)’

All modern websites are built using a Content Management System (CMS). Turboweb’s unique CMS is called Simple Web Manager and is part of what makes our sites so user friendly. This is the system that lets you log onto your site as an admin and change the content of your website by changing the photos and the text. If you ever need a refresher on how to use Simple Web Manager, just give us a call and we’ll help you out.

Keep yourself and your company protected from scammers

At Turboweb, we know that you work hard in your business for your customers and we’d hate for some of these scams and dodgy offers to lead you to spend money on things you just don’t need, or worse, to be really taken to the cleaners.

We’re always up to have a chat and investigate any issues that these reports might raise and shed some light on any truths in them. Some of them may well be worth pursuing and could lead to some improvements to your site or online presence, but a lot of it might, unfortunately, just be a scam.

If you’re in any doubt at all, don’t let them spook you – just give us a call. We’re happy to help.