Every day I see it and can’t help but be surprised and potential entrepreneurs get caught up with different types of scams and schemes. Too many entrepreneurs are looking for the quickest route to something and not the route that is actually correct. They can also look at and ignore when you point out things that aren’t likely for them because of a certain mentality. Too many people think “This Can’t Hurt” if a particular ‘scheme’ doesn’t work. Unfortunately, that is not true and here is how you hurt yourself looking for shortcuts.
Facebook is infamous for this, but they aren’t the only platform where the scammers proliferate. Any social platform can be home to the most common scams today. Unlike these business owners, the scammers are in this for a long haul and use these different methods as a start to get information they will use later.
A lot of the common scams right now involve the need and desire of business owners for funding. This is an issue that is multi-faceted. First, business owners need to be very aware of legal potential fundraising. This is grants, investments, and loans. Fundraisers like Kickstarter and Go Fund Me fall into a different bucket because they require you to be very active to make them work. Too many business owners are trying for Grants but not putting in the work to really qualify and are looking for fast handouts. While there may be some reputable individuals who will provide you with some funding through charities and groups they have started for that purpose, you should be very wary of anyone who claims they will be using Cash App, or any of the other modern money transfer services. Actually, even going old school like Western Union can also be used to scam.
Cash App, Zelle and other similar services are not truly meant to be used this way. They aren’t the preferred way to deal with business transactions because of how they operate. Transaction records are sketchy, customer service is almost nonexistent, and if you don’t pay attention they are susceptible to hacking and being compromised. These reasons make them very dangerous to use for business and especially for these so-called angels and groups who are just ‘giving money away’.Nothing is free, and part of what they are getting from you is information. Some of which is for their own use, while some of it is for sale on the web to others for all kinds of purposes.
Some other scams involve getting you verified on a social media platform. It doesn’t take long to do some research on how to get a verified account. Usually it takes a large number of followers and other vital statistics. You cannot fall into a trend of thinking that there are special exceptions (there are but they go through official channels; new reality stars; artists that pop) that get a shortcut. Someone advertising their ability to get you verified is just going to take money from you and possibly more information.
I would also be wary of anyone who strictly wants you to DM or has information that is truly public but can be a pain to follow. People who will only send you grant or vendor resources if you pay them probably don’t have the very best information and are looking to string you along for other things. They are preying on your excitement and lack of knowledge. Credit score boosting schemes are also trouble. Work from home “opportunities” are a traditional attempt to get over on you. Most of these use technical jargon to give off the perception that they are legitimate. Don’t fall for it.
We understand that every extra dollar can help your business grow but you have to be smarter about the risks vs the rewards. Getting your identity stolen and having your personal life and branding compromised because you didn’t stop to think is a nightmare to recover from. These methods are all just ways to start their ‘scam pitch’ where now you are in contact with them as they weasel more and more information such as phone numbers and e-mails from you. They also want you to open attachments and visit certain websites which will allow them to scrape even more information from you. With any business, you need to educate yourself and learning about cyber security is important both personally and professionally.
Make sure you research any apps and methods of communication before you visit or download apps. Google is your friend. Search for what people are saying and also add the word scam to see what might pop up. You need to go beyond the first page as well so that you can get passed some of the paid listings and scammers that understand how to use SEO. Being internet aware has to be one of the things that you put on your checklist. Check out some youtube videos and see how the technologies are being used and exploited. Make the time. Your business depends on you doing the work that you need to do and some of that is going to be defensive.