We have recently become aware of a new variation on a classic check and wire-transfer scam, one specifically designed to target life coaches.
Here’s how it works: A foreign party, posing as a potential client, will contact you to let you know that they’ll be traveling through your area for a short while, and are in need of your services due to some sudden emergency. They will offer to pay for the appointment in advance by check. So far the appointment could very well be legitimate. However, when the check arrives, you will find that it has been written for a much larger amount than expected.
The foreign “client” will request that you deposit the check, and wire transfer the excess balance back to them.
In essence, this is a fraudulent check/money laundering scam.
What can you do to protect yourself?
1) Be suspicious of any potential clients who seem to be going to improbable lengths for your services.
2) Require payment up front, but do not accept checks unless you’ve established a prior relationship with the client. Instead, request advanced payment via credit card, using a service such as PayPal, or Google Checkout. Even then, be sure that you only accept payment for the exact amount of the service.
3) Under no circumstances accept an overpayment plus refund.
4) Do not send or receive wire transfers for any reason.
5) Be wary – if an apparent client inquiry makes you feel uncomfortable, or you are unsure of how to respond to a contact for ANY reason, contact your bank. Your bank is likely to have up-to-date information about the latest scams that may be out there. You can also contact your web-host if you’re simply unsure how to handle something! Here at CoachingWebsites we are always happy to help you evaluate a situation, and to do our best to protect you from scam artists. Take advantage of our expertise!
There are many other types of scams out there, too many to list. Still, here are a few of the very common ones to be aware of:
1) Domain Registration Scams – You will be contacted by a company under a name that sounds like an official government organization, such as “Domain Registry of America” – they will tell you that your domain name will soon be expiring, and that you need to pay a very large fee in order to keep the domain name.
- This is a scam! The fine print will tell you that what you’re actually doing is transferring the domain to a different registration company at an excessive cost.
- In most cases, your domain will likely be set to renew automatically!
- At the very least, your current registration company will contact you about a renewal – which should not typically cost more than $10 to $20.
- If you’re not sure – contact your webhosting company! For example – at CoachingWebsites we manage the domain names for the majority of our customers, and will renew them automatically and at no extra cost!
2) Variations on the Wire Transfer Scam – There are a number of other ways that a scam artist will attempt to pass off a bad check, or attempt to get you to wire large sums of money.
- Do not accept checks from clients you don’t know!
- Do not participate in a wire transfer for any reason. Many of these scams are intended to steal your money as an ‘advance’ on a larger amount you will never receive!
- Even if the other party is giving you all the money to be transferred it is still a scam! Do not be taken in.
3) Phishing Scams – A communication will be sent out – typically an email – disguised to look exactly like an official message from a legitimate company. Sometimes they will even include images from and links to the official website, to make them appear more authentic. These messages will attempt to deceive into revealing personal or financial information. For example, they may ask you to click on a link to “Update important account information” or “Reactivate your account” and direct you to a fake website, where your login details or personal information will be logged and stolen.
- Most legitimate companies will never ask for login information or personal details by email – ever.
- If you do receive a message that you think might be official, don’t use the links contained within the message. Instead, go directly to the company website yourself, by typing the domain into your browser, to make sure you reach the legitimate site!
- Similarly, do not reply to the message directly, or use the phone number presented there, instead verify the phone number by going to the official website on your own.
Unfortunately, there are many other scams to be aware of – but these are some of the most common that you should certainly keep an eye out for. In the end, security is about vigilance. Verify the authenticity of “official” communication, NEVER give out personal information or details except through an official channel that you have found on your own, be careful what software you download, and whenever you are unsure how to proceed…contact your bank or your web-host!
For more information about confidence scams: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_confidence_tricks
If you have received a message that you believe is part of a scam, you can report it to the FTC: https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov
We encourage you to report these scams and help make the internet a safer place!
Tim L – CoachingWebsites Support
Email any questions to [email protected]