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Web Presence Management: Cheaters Never Prosper

If cheaters don’t prosper, how come spam is so popular as a means to scam people out of their hard-earned dollars?

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BSB Contributing Editor Mark Claypool has more than 30 years of experience in the fields of workforce development, apprenticeships, marketing and Web presence management with SkillsUSA, the I-CAR Education Foundation, Mentors at Work, VeriFacts Automotive and the NABC. He is the CEO of Optima Automotive (www.optimaautomotive.com), which provides website design, SEO services and social media management services.

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You’ve certainly heard the phrase, “Cheaters never prosper.” Is that true? One might think otherwise when you consider the amount of spam (junk mail) you receive daily. If cheaters don’t prosper, how come spam is so popular as a means to scam people out of their hard-earned dollars? Why must we have anti-virus software installed on our computers and have to update it all the time? Because spammers have access to billions of email addresses.

Billions

Let’s use a billion emails as an example. If a spammer finds someone to bite on their email and can get them to buy something, pay for a service, make an “investment,” etc., they stand to profit big time. If only one-one hundredth of one percent falls prey to these tactics, and the cost is, for example, $50, the spammers make $5 million!

Wait! What? Five million bucks for one scam email? I’m in the wrong business! Let’s do the math, shall we:

  • 1,000,000,000 email addresses
  • 1/100th of 1 percent of a billion is 100,000
  • $50 per scam times 100,000 = $5,000,000

Naked Emails

This is why we urge you to never expose your actual email address on your website. These are called “naked” email addresses because they’re exposed to the world. When you have a naked email address on your website, you’re feeding spambots. Spambots scan millions of websites around the world looking at text and searching for the “@” symbol that’s part of an email address. When found, they harvest it off that website and add them to their list and share lists amongst themselves. Once your email address is on a spammer’s list, it will be there forever and always.

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Now, if a more reputable company has your email address legitimately and they send out a mass email, they’re required by law to offer an “unsubscribe” option. Be careful with these because spammers use these, too – not to abide by the law but to verify that they have an active, live email address to a real person. They can also hyperlink these to a site that uploads malware to your computer. Ugh! How do you know what to do?

For most of these, you want to simply ignore them, consider using services to weed out spam or use an email service like Google’s Gmail, which you can use for your company email with your actual domain for $5 per person per month. This can help get rid of the vast majority of spam, but you also risk missing some email that you actually want, too.

Unsubscribing can cause potential issues, too. Be absolutely sure you know who the sender is before you hit that “unsubscribe” button. And even that might not be safe since sophisticated spammers can easily fake where the email is coming from. Double ugh! You have to mouse over the link and make sure it’s showing that it’s taking you to that actual sender’s domain. And never reply to these emails in any way. Don’t think sending an email back to them with “unsubscribe” in the subject line or body of the email will do the trick, for most of the same reasons already discussed. In addition, your email to them will also tip off the spammer about your email software, too, and they’ll try to figure out ways to circumvent that as well.

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The best bet is to mark the email as spam. This deletes the message and educates your email software what you consider to be spam, which then makes it more effective in blocking future similar spam. But don’t expect spam to stop; this will be a neverending battle the rest of your online life!

Other Scams

Unfortunately, there is no shortage of other scams. One in particular I would like to bring to your attention concerns any domain names you’ve registered. The information about who owns the rights to domain names is available to the public unless you’ve paid extra to hide it. Your name, address, email address and phone number are all there. So you may get calls, mail and email bringing to your attention that your domain is about to expire and they’ll be happy to help you renew it.

In one example I received, one of my domains that isn’t set to expire for months now was highlighted in the solicitation. It looked official, and said, “Failure to complete your domain name search engine registration by the expiration date may result in cancellation of this offer, making it difficult for your customers to locate you on the Web.” Oh no, say it isn’t so! But this isn’t where my domain was registered. And when I renew, it will cost me $11 a year with my current domain service. This scammer’s price was $75 per year! Or that “best value” deal of $499 for life. At $11 a year, I can get 45 years for that!

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Be Careful

Just be careful, my friends. When in doubt, check it out. Reach out to me with your questions – I’m here to help!

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