To answer the question of how to spot a scammer we first have to understand the flip side of the coin. The internet has opened ample opportunities for most people. What was impossible some decades ago is now possible and easy as if it was always there. It is now easy to do business than before. I am a web designer and digital marketer another carrier that only exists because of the internet.
Anyone can connect with people all over the world. The internet has enabled businesses to operate virtually. In most instances, all you need is a laptop or smartphone with an internet connection and you are good to go and compete with big businesses on an equal footing.
Unfortunately, the internet has also made it easy for scammers to operate. They operate as legit businesses. Most people have known the difference after they have been scammed. But, is there a formula on how to spot a scammer?
In no particular order here are some ways to spot a scammer. This applies to Web design, Graphic design and other related services.
Check if they have a website.
The first and most basic way to spot a scammer is to have a look at their website. If they do not have a website, please run away with your money fast. Why do you trust people who do not have an online presence? If someone claims to be a web designer and they do not have a website for their business, what gives you the assurance that they are capable of creating a website for you.
If their website looks clumsy or suspicious, better stay with your money and find help elsewhere.
Let them show you their portfolio.
If someone does a job or project it becomes their pride, their CV and business card. They want the whole world to know how good they are. So, if someone does not have anything to show, it probably means they can not do it or they are just taking chances. Also, it is very important to verify if they are the ones who designed or created what they claim. If it is a website check for their name in the footer. Most photographers embed their signature in the photo. Insist on viewing their portfolio.
Have a look at their social media profiles
Let’s face it, When looking for someone to do a job for you, you must be convinced that they know what they are doing. Checking their social media profiles will help you in 2 ways. The first one is the assurance that they are in business. The second one is you can measure the timeframe they have been in business. If you go to a social media profile and there is nothing going on, chances are you just spotted a scammer. Do not do business with someone who has a personal profile only and not a business social media profile. You have to see what they talk about and what they do on their relevant business profile. Check out my profile to get some inspiration.
Ask for references.
Recruiters ask for references if they want to hire a new employee for their company. You have the right to do the same as well. This will help you to spot a scammer because they probably do not have credible references. I know they might try to make up the name and contact details, so ask for references to the portfolio that was presented to you.
Look at their prices.
Most people fall prey to scammers because they want cheap things. Scammers use low prices as a way to lure unsuspecting customers.
As they say, if it’s too good to be true, it probably is. Prices speak.
I am not saying that you must be overcharged but at least make sure the price is also reasonable. If a website is costing you close to nothing you should be concerned because no professional web designer will charge you peanuts for their precious time. I am not pegging web design prices but you should consider them if you want to know how to spot a scammer.
Ask their methods of payments
Different legit companies and freelancers have different methods of payments and payment schedules. Some will need 50% upfront, some 20%. Some want the money to be deposited in their bank account or through their website. No problem with that except that scammers may want you to use other methods like an e-wallet. However, some scammers use bank accounts as well.
The best payment method for your safety is the escrow service. Unfortunately, most people do not know what escrow is. In my experience, I have realized that by mentioning escrow service to some potential clients they ended up thinking that escrow is a scam and I want to scam them.
The money is yours. It is your right to feel safe when using your money. According to escrow.com – An escrow is a financial arrangement where a third party holds and regulates the payment of the funds required for two parties involved in a given transaction. It helps make transactions more secure by keeping the payment in a secure escrow account which is only released when all of the terms of an agreement are met as overseen by the escrow company. I have written a full post about escrow. Please read it here.
It is so painful to lose your hard-earned money to a scammer. This article is there to give you insight on how to spot a scammer but one should always be diligent because scammers are getting more sophisticated on a daily basis. Please drop your advice on how to spot a scammer. How do you spot a scammer? Was this helpful? Share your thoughts.
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A professional Freelance Web designer & Digital marketer. Passionate about creating cutting edge websites and digital marketing strategies that position organizations as leaders in their industries. He has worked with a number of companies across South Africa. When he is not behind a computer he will be reading a book or cycling in the hoods.