Today I want to discuss some important security tips. These can be very helpful to anyone really but I aim it at people who have started a new online venture and who are totally new to the industry.
The idea for this has come from many questions I have received while running support for a new training academy we are running here at Tims Minions. Many of our students who have never started an online business before are suddenly finding that their email inboxes are becoming swamped with emails.
Many of these are posing as SEO specialists, content creation companies along with many that are sending ‘invoices’ for products they have not bought.
This has caused a fair bit of panic from the students, which is understandable when you think you are suddenly faced with the reality that you are losing money to people that you do not know. Many of these emails work on your fear and your lack of knowledge in the industry.
The panic will force you to ‘stop thinking rationally’ and do something which could be very costly. The other issue people have is understanding how these sammers suddenly get your email address. Many people still believe that if they receive and email then they must be from a reputable source who they have given the email too.
I shall focus on the two worst types of emails there are and what I think you need to do, the scamming phishing email and the ‘offering important services to new website owners’ emails.
Remember The Words Spam And Scam Can Make You Fall Into Their Trap…. Which Is A Spam Or A Scam!
Many emails are designed so that you click on the links inside them to be taken to websites but in reality they are phishing emails where they add malware and viruses to your computer.
Some are to do harm but many are to find your passwords and bank/card details. Some will sit on your computer quietly monitoring your key strokes so that they can transmit back your passwords and credit card numbers to computers in other parts of the world owned by organised criminals.
The blue lines are emails I expect from Facebook and people I have subscribed too, the rest are unsolicited emails and those in the boxes I believe to be potentially harmful. Notice the real email address appear when I hover over a name in my email client? (Yours might be different)
False Invoices – These are common, sometimes even the real companies emails have been hacked and used. I remember receiving an email from an online holiday company that I had once used and the email they sent was to confirm a holiday booking I had made. I hadn’t so I emailed them via their website and I was told what had happened. I did not click any links inside.
Generally they need you to open the emails so they tell you what they are pushing in the email title which is often enough to tell you to not open the email. You will get invoices for all kinds of purchases, what is even better when you get the same invoice from several people at the same time. Nothing screams ‘dangerous email’ more than several different people sending you and invoice for the same thing… something that you clearly know you have not bought.
False Delivery Tracking – This is a good one, I receive so many of these… people trying to pass themselves off as UPS or some other service by hoping that I open up the email and click the link to ‘check on the delivery status of the item I have NOT bought ‘. You should know what you have bought and there is no need to open these emails let alone click on links.
False Commission Payments – Unless you are selling something you should not be receiving emails notifying you of commissions. If you are selling products for a 3rd party you should know what the real email looks like but to be honest, reading commission notifications robs you of productivity time. It makes more sense to log into your affiliate dashboard and check sales from inside there.
If you are not selling items then you should know that you have not made any sales commissions and you should not do anything with these emails other than delete them.
False Charge Backs – PayPal allows people to do a charge back or ask for money back based on circumstances that a seller has not adhered to. For a seller it can be a pain, when I sold T-Shirts on eBay I would have it happen a lot from countries like Italy. It was annoying as we delivered and did what we had to do but PayPal always favours the buyer allowing people to rob you of your goods.
Emails notifying you off charge backs can get people panicky and worried as it literally screams ‘You are losing money’ or ‘Someone is robbing you’ and so people open up emails to see more and then in their panic click on dodgy links. Again unless you are selling something or buying something you should not be getting these emails and you should know what you have bought. If you are concerned then go inside your account via the main website login.
You may also notice these emails come from companies or people that do not mention PayPal or credit card companies.
False Winnings – These have been well documented on TV programmes recently. There are people sitting at computers in all of the four corners of the world just sending out emails to people saying that they have won some money or if they send X amount of pounds they can free up a large lump sum of money.
This is not true and is just a basic scam, after all, if you had won some money would you not remember entering the competition? I love money, I would love to have a lot more of it and a windfall would be nice but I am ALWAYS dubious of any email telling me that I have won money when I have done nothing. Everyone should be!
Tax and Authority Warnings/Investigations – I cannot tell you how many times the FBI or CIA are investigating me, I am not sure why, I know I have done nothing wrong… maybe they don’t like the music I listen to. Why would the FBI and CIA be repeatedly interested in a writer from England, it’s not like I am advocating a worldwide revolution to ignore the States… I write articles like this one, it is hardly going to cause a social crash.
I also regularly get emails from the HMRC regarding TAX… now I do to them what I do with the written letters they send me through the post… They go straight into the bin. 🙂 Any real authority organisations will get in touch via the post or call to your house if they need to talk to you urgently.
It is often advised when issues rise that you should take action, in the case of emails from authorities like the Police or the CIA I advise you do nothing, they will come for you if they are genuine or if you are concerned find a contact phone number and give them a ring… just don’t be surprised when they sound surprised at you handing yourself in from your Yorkshire Cottage for unknown crimes against the States.
I want to mention the story of the unfortunate lad who had autism, he had not even reached 20 when he took his own life due his computer being taken over by a terrifying malware/virus which locked off his computer and showed a screen saying that it had been seized by the local police. It said that he had been caught looking at indecent material. He could unlock his computer only after he paid a fine online of £100.
This is a very common computer malware scam, even I have had it on one of my computers and it can be passed from any website. I fortunately knew how to remove it and did so easily; I knew that I had done nothing wrong and that it was injected onto my computer via an advert on a music site.
Interestingly the warning on the screen is the same for everyone and lists what the POSSIBLE crime MIGHT have been on a list of many.
Unfortunately for this autistic lad he panicked, he didn’t want his parents to think he had been up to no good even though the computer showed that he had not but he was unable to communicate his concern and was scared so he took his own life.
These scams are by people who do not care about people. It is a sad fact of life. This scam can also be sent via email, if you click on a link that takes you to an infected site where these types of malware and viruses are secretly added to your machine.
I haven’t even mentioned the emails that you get from women who just ‘want to chat’. I say women, it is doubtful that they are women but the emails have female names assigned to the sender details and these emails want to send you to porn sites where you are likely to have these malware and viruses downloaded onto your computer.
4 more dodgy emails including 2 offering SEO services. They may be genuine but I doubt it.
Using Your Fear Against You
Fear of internet scams and being scammed can drive people to blindly investigate and ‘act fast’ to stop the perceived scam which just means that people open up emails from people they do not know or from email addresses that look like the real company but are not or click on links in emails which they should never do.
Many emails at quick glance look like they are from companies that you may use but on closer inspection you will see that the email is nothing like the real one.
First rule of thumb is to NEVER OPEN unknown emails; if you do open any the next rule is to NOT click on any link in an email that has been sent to you unsolicited. In fact when it comes to big companies like Amazon, eBay and PayPal I generally recommend that you do not click on their emails either.
Emails should be seen as a notification, if they tell you that you need to do something or that there is a problem, close the email then log in to your actual account on their website. If there are issues that need addressing then you will see them inside of your account, your email is just to let you know of the problem.
Internet Marketing Newsletters & Spam
As for internet marketers and their products, you should know whose newsletter you signed up for and what their real email address is and you would know what to trust when it comes to clicking on a link.
For example, when I send out an email it is from email@example.com but it will be seen in your inbox as from Tims Minions. However if you receive anything from Tims Minions but the email is from any other email address such as firstname.lastname@example.org for example then you should be very cautious.
It is easy for people to add a name that matches ours to their email software but it is harder for them to use our email address unless they hack the account. (But it can be done… I seem to get emails sent by myself to myself selling myself sunglasses!?!?!?)
So How Do People Get Our Email Addresses?
We all need to use an email address when we set up accounts whether it is Twitter and Facebook to eBay and Amazon, they all want an email from us and those emails are stored in databases.
Emails are found by software illegally hacking into accounts or scraping websites, it is not hard for people to buy your email from dodgy people or even not so ethical companies. Never assume that an email sent to your inbox is sent to you by a honest person.
If you looked into it deeply, you would be amazed at what software and services there are available for money. Pay someone a few hundred dollars and they will find you a lot of email addresses!
Those Annoying SEO Service Emails.
When registering a domain name or setting up a website as part of your online business you will need to use an email and as these things are monitored for security reasons by the authorities much of your data is public. You can pay more to hide it but even then, those who know how will find your contact email.
People are amazed when they set up a website or register a domain when they suddenly get emails offering SEO and website services. These people are either individuals who sit and monitor new ‘registered’ domain names and hosting details or they have a team doing it. They use software tools to search for the ‘Contact Forms’ on your new websites and then send emails via them. It is not hard for them to find a contact email for a new website.
Some maybe genuine people trying to reach out to potential new clients who would need those types of services but many are not so you need to be careful.
I would say most are not up to good, I once received many phone calls from a London number not long after registering a domain name. Instead of answering I took that number and did a Google search which came back with many results telling me that they were a company that pestered owners of newly registered domain names and hosting to offer website building and SEO services.
The search results also had many people complaining about them saying that they were very rude to people if they turned their services down. There were also complaints that they did not do what they said they would and if they did do any work it was very overpriced.
They in fact wanted to charge a lot for very little, they would promise to do SEO work which would get the new website into the Google searches.
All new website owners and online business owners who are completely new to the industry will suddenly realise that they need traffic, they realise that they need to get into the Google search rankings and that they will need some SEO work but they also know that they know NOTHING of this brave new world.
Many of these SEO companies will work on this lack of knowledge and use it against them. They offer services at high prices which most people either could do themselves or get someone else to do it cheaper. It is just that many new website and business owners do not know what it really entails and so they pay for the service. These SEO services prey on the vulnerable if you like, they know you know very little and so they strike.
Some SEO companies have taken the money and done nothing, but those that have will tell you, when questioned as to why the work they have done has not propelled your site to the top of Google’s rankings, that it was Google’s fault as they have done some new update to their search algorithm or something else that is out of their control in order to take your money and not be responsible for not delivering results.
As a newbie you should know that true SEO companies should be able to give you real working examples and results of what they have done for others, they should also tell you that you may not rank fast and that it could be an ongoing job.
New website owners who want to build an online business are walking into a mind field of SEO, SMO, content marketing and guest posting and a whole host of things that they were not aware of and probably not aware on how well these things work or if they are old hat. And so it is with this confusion that new business owners hand over money to people who just do a bad job, if they do the job in the first place.
Tims Minions Advice On Dealing With Rogue Emails.
We go for the simple approach and that is take a step back and do not act straight away upon seeing something. Sometimes emotions are stimulated and you rush to open an email when you see that an email is saying that you have either spent money you didn’t know about, someone has taken money from one of your accounts or if you have won some money or made a commission sale.
Remember, scammers work on creating emotion like panic and fear and they work on the basic motivations like greed and loneliness.
I have one email account which regularly receives emails saying that I have made loads of commissions for sales of products that I am not promoting on a network that I have not joined. I could open those emails and investigate but for what reason? I know that I have never joined that network and I have never promoted their products.
I suggest you look at the email titles, hover your mouse over their email address which generally reveals the real full email address they are using and never open anything that has come from someone you do not know or have not signed up for. Any that comes from a big company check the email address and if you are still unsure do not open the email and go straight to the website via your browser or app and check for messages inside the site.
As for those that offer you SEO services, use Google, take time and ask a lot of questions, do research on them, check out their websites and ask to speak to clients if possible but whatever you do, do not hand over money for work before it is done or to the first person who comes along offering to put you to the top of Google’s results!