Are These Really Scams?

    August 1, 2003

There have been many articles that tell you to be wary of a scam if certain information isn’t readily available – namely a street address and testimonials you can verify. This is ridiculous, because people need more privacy in light of spam and all types of scammers. Another problem concerns those phone messages and emails you sent, that go unanswered – but there might be a good reason for that.

I use a PO Box mailing address myself, because a few years ago a couple of “whackos” tried to find out where I live. They were in California and I am in Colorado, so I felt somewhat safe in thinking they could not find me from so far away. From that point on, though, I quit using my street address for safety’s sake and for the well-being of my daughter who could also be placed in jeopardy. I know someone can find out a street address just by knowing a PO Box address, but most people won’t go to all that trouble.

As for testimonials, I ask people if I can use theirs, and whether they want any contact information posted. So far, only 2 have offered their email address to be posted with their comments. This is because spammers harvest everything on a site, and pull off email addresses, and more. People have the right to say they do not want to be accessed so easily. I keep a file with the people’s information, so that if someone wanted to contact them, I can be the initial contact, and see if the person wants to be contacted. If so, I’ll arrange a meeting that works for both.

As for financial matters, there are strict rules that need to be followed – and often I am not allowed to give out any contact information on a client, not even to ask if they wish to be interviewed. Do not expect to see testimonials with any contact information on most finance sites – it is beyond a client’s rights and privileges to be listed unless they specifically want to be listed.

If you left a message or sent an email, but have not received an answer, that is not necessarily indicative of a problem. I absolutely cannot reply to all phone messages, and certain email messages, because the person did not make himself clear. Often on the phone, someone will leave a phone number, but no area code. Or he will say the number so fast that I can not understand it. Or his cell phone will blip out on part of the numbers as he speaks.

Sometimes an email will be sent but the reply will bounce. Or she is using someone else’s email, and gets a typo when telling me an address to reply to. Or the email never made it (I received one email only a week prior to one year late – yes it took one week short of a year to get to me). Of course, some emails never make it.

Faxes are another story – some disappear into the ozone, or perhaps were punched in with one wrong digit and delivered elsewhere. You can never be sure your fax got to its destination until you call and verify it was received.

There are other signs of scams out there, but the above ones are not to be included in this. People need to have privacy and safety factored into the equation, and reasons for not following the self proclaimed “scam rules” may well be more than reasonable. Plus, mistakes happen.

Don’t assume someone is pulling a scam until you know more about their situation. Is the business or person listed with I-Cop or some other reputable policing agency? Is there enough contact information, including a phone number, so you can call for more information if needed? Does the person answer if you call, or do you get put off to some answering service or do little kids answer the phone?

A professional would make sure the business is run as a business should be run. If you cannot speak to a person, or you never get an answer to when you email (more than once), then begin to get concerned. As long as there are multiple contact methods, you should be able to get hold of the business.

P. Roe does website optimization work, and is working on her sites all the time – many are in number 1-10 ranking on Google and Yahoo! Subscribe to “Wise Little Tidbits” for more optimization tips.