Thursday, October 20, 2011

I’ve Been Scammed!

Gabrielle Bruni Creations available at Mark Gregory & Company

Okay, how many out there have been scammed? If you have an email account, a Facebook account or any other form of social media, you’ve probably been scammed. Most of the time it is a harmless scam out to get your email address. They offer something, like entering a contest (see Monday’s blog) or a survey or some other customer appreciation scheme. Unfortunately, none of it is true. The worst part is when some scamster is hiding behind the name of a reputable company. There is a scam going around were you could win a free Starbucks gift card and another for a free In-N-Out Burger gift card. All you had to do was take a short survey and you were entered to win. What the scam was actually doing was signing you up for a “premium” text messaging service at $9.99 a month. There is no warning that this is what they are going to do until it happens. What a racket!

The nice thing about being small is no one is going to steal my business name and if they do, it won’t generate the kind of attention these scammers need to make it work. Don’t think anyone would click on my name. This is a real problem for social media with these “click” ad scammers. People have come to trust social media as a method of keeping in touch with friends, family and business associates. It is also a medium whereby people can get feedback and information about products and services. This is the true tragedy of these scams, the instilling of fear or doubt in the content of an advertisement. These scammers also proclaim to other “friends or followers” that the principle has “just entered to win” a free whatever. It perpetuates the idea that it is legitimate, when it is not.

Back in the day, advertising when done through papers, magazines, TV, and other media that was monetized and controlled. Even though it still exists in these forms there are other options that are less expensive. This is important for small businesses. While I would love to take a full page ad in a fashion magazine to advertise my jewelry, I just don’t see it in my budget. Social media is a way for me to get the word out about my business and products without breaking the bank. Yes, it is slow going, but I can advertise at my own pace with my own words. Something these scammers have taken away from big business. My only communication with In-N-Out Burger on their Facebook page was to warn them that someone is using their name for a rip-off. I don’t think this is what they had in mind when they started a fan page.

So at the very least, check out my store Mark Gregory & Company or my Facebook fan page. I promise not to sell your name or email account to a local spamming company. In fact, I promise not to post too many updates either. While I feel that social media should be used for good, it obviously is not always used benevolently and it irks me when it is used for evil. This is why I will never go over to the dark side and become a pest or an evil spambot, you can count on that!

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