How To Avoid Photography Client Scams
Scamming isn’t new, but the methods by which scammers are preying on photographers has evolved and the war continues to be waged upon unsuspecting business owners.
Here is a compiled list of reported scams that are currently occurring and the recommended course of action. If you have any scam to report please contact us here.
Cashier Check Enticement For Weddings
Been receiving a few emails from a “client” for a wedding and eventually this today, “Hello, Thanks for the mail,am very happy that you agreed to perform on our wedding,the date of our wedding is on March 30th 2013.I will give you the wedding venue as soon as the location is ready,i told you in my last mail that am not in state for now. Since your fee is $2600,i want you to reserve the date for us.I have a client that will send you a cashier check of $5500. I believe true transaction should be based on trust that is why i said he should send you the payment,as soon as you get the money you will deduct your fees and send the rest to my cake Baker. So i will like you to get back to me with your Full Name and Full Address with your Cell And Home And office phone #,.Looking forward to read from you Soon”
You can tell by this statement that not only does the inquiry have really bad English skills, but that the intentions are not to engage the Photographer for services. These types of inquiries that are scams typically will tip off your radar – so follow your gut. Just be mindful that not all inquiries with bad grammar and spelling are scams, some clients just may not have the writing skill that you do as a business owner!
Fake Government Action
“We are calling about your operating system having a virus”, but one was a call that came up with “911” in the caller ID with a recording saying I had a warrant out for my arrest and needed to call the Attorney General at whatever number.”
For this, if the Attorney General or any governmental agency wanted to contact you there would also be supporting documentation for what is being purported. I have personally had the tax department give a phone call about my account but was able to provide me the information and a follow up official letter.
If you do engage someone on the phone and are unsure about the scam probability, do not share any private information and always confirm the information in the call with a follow-up call to the Agency or wait for formal written communications.
Session Inquiry and Credit Card
This scam is being committed by email, text and phone calls. The scammer poses as a potential client and wants to pay with credit card. A member of TheLawTog community reported that this scammer “books” you for a family reunion. They say a location that is in your area. They say that their event planner or venue doesn’t accept credit cards, so they give you your fee plus like $1500 for the venue or planner. Then you are supposed to withdraw the money the day of the event to pay the venue or event planner. Then the scammer does a chargeback (see this article on chargebacks) and you end up with no money.
A confirmed end result of the scam has not been verified, the information is what was reported to TheLawTog. Those reporting this scam have not engaged with the scammer.
These above examples are just a few of what have been reported. There are many more in existence so just watch for these!
Fake Domain Registration
This email is being sent on the facade of having photographers register for search engines. Their fear tactic is that if you don’t register, your will not show up in the search engines. This is not true – and is just searching for private information.
Fake Negative Review Scam
There are few things scarier than a tarnished reputation when it comes to a photography business; as we often rely on the word-of-mouth and search engine presence to bring us clients. Scammers have become aware of this fact and are capitalizing on threats of fake negative reviews for sessions that never occurred unless they comply with their demands (primarily money).
In fact, the negative review one is so rampant that Professional Photographers of America has issued a scam alert here.
Here is an example from a TheLawTog Community member – shared with permission. Read updates of her situation here.
What to do about these scams?
- Ignore the emails and do not engage the individual.
- Examine your site, hosting information, Google Place page, and other online presence profiles to ensure that no sensitive information is being shared (such as your home address and phone number).
- Get a Google Phone Number – to avoid sharing your personal phone line.
- Get a PO Box or UPS Store Address – use this for all correspondence by mail (including at the end of your newsletter emails)
- Contact the Federal Trade Commission: via its toll free hotline: 877-FTC-HELP (877-382-4357) or the FTC online complaint form
- Contact the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Internet Fraud Complaint Center
- If the threats become worrisome for your health and home please contact your local police department
Share this with others!
Share this graphic with other photographers so that they can be protected against scams as well!