You are a small business owner.
You thrive on the opportunity of closing as much new business as possible.
There is a new tactic online and directed to your phone that aims at taking some of your hard earned money. A new potential client initially contacts you by text message or email before having a physical conversation. Everybody texts more and more every day. Texting is not just reserved for the tweens anymore. Real business and revenues can be won over texts in some point of the conversation. How do you know that it is a scam? One of our clients, Chicago area Photographer Nick Antonopoulos of Nick Ant Photography had this question for us.
Nick was getting occasional text messages and emails from individuals claiming to be potential business. These “leads” claimed that they were friends of previous clients or associates, or they had found him from Yelp. How can you check to see if these are real leads, or somebody looking to screw you over?
Verify the Digital Footprint – If real humans leave footprints, then they probably do so online as well. The first step to determine if you are being pursued by a real potential client is to do your research. You don’t want to ignore these inquiries if they are real potential business, but lets take a look at some of the telltale signs.
- Search the Email Address Provided – Try it. Google search your own email address. You will probably find a long trail of blog posts, social media accounts, organizations you belong/belonged to. Some individuals may use private emails addresses for certain activities, but usually you will find matches.
- Search the Phone Number You Were Provided- This should be common sense but its not to everybody. If an individual is trying to book a photographer, they may do so at work. If they work for a larger company you may turn up a match for the phone number with a Search Engine Query.
- Try and Locate the Individual on Facebook or Other Social Media- You may locate an individual by the 2 tactics above, if not try running their email, phone number or any other information through Facebook. You may get a match or you may get nothing.
- Look for Terms Such as Verification of Credit Card Payment- A potential client wants to hire a photographer to take pictures, and they are looking to pay with credit cards. You take credit cards! Thank goodness. Nobody is going to offer to pay you for photography without personally speaking to you or long personalized emails back and forth. If you are able to book legitimate clients without having a conversation over the phone, you should be sharing your secrets
- Look for Behaviors That are Atypical in Your Field – Besides verifying credit card payments, these scammers may ask if they can book you without an exact day, time or details. If I was looking for a wedding photographer, I would probably want to read reviews, talk to the photographer, meet the photographer etc. If the individual does pay you, it will typically be a charge that will be removed from your bank account in a weeks time. These scammers will also try to pay over the amount and ask for a refund by check or card.
Good luck out there and stay safe!