Nine Internet Scams, Internet Spams and Phone Scams that Could Affect your Photography Business
Please excuse the rant – but I am so sick and tired of constantly having to ward off internet scam artists, internet spam, phone scams and theft of my personal information – it’s time to have a serious conversation on how the internet needs some sort of fundamental kick in the a$$ that will stop this omnipresent onslaught of time sucking junk.
Oh – and I don’t just mean the guy working at the call center that phones me every day about improving my SEO – I’m also talking about the big corporations that buy my personal information and then send me “personalized” advertising about some random pair of shoes I clicked on months ago.
You can all eff off and die.
A big part of the modern photography business is building up an online presence.
Social media, website, blogs etc…it’s become a necessity to put yourself out there online – I get that.
What I didn’t sign up for is the constant onslaught of scams, spam and just general time wasting junk that we now have to deal with on a daily basis.
I don’t answer my phone any more unless it’s a known number. I have no idea how many clients I have lost because of that – but it’s worth it to never hear another prerecorded spam phone call.
I have the best anti-virus, anti-spam, anti-phishing, anti-spyware, anti-junk mail, anti-spambot, anti-everything software, filtering, screening….that I can think of, and I still have to resort to checking the IP addresses of emails before I respond to them.
It is all a colossal waste of time and there are very real business implications.
Here is a list of the internet scams, internet spam, phone scams and general junk that I have had to deal with in the last month (in no particular order):
The “I Am Calling You From Windows” Scam
Ya, don’t laugh – this actually happened to my father in-law and he’s an ex-cop, so you think he would have figured it out sooner.
He actually let some guy have remote access to his computer for over an hour.
Normally, that wouldn’t affect me – except he was using my old laptop.
I wonder how many passwords and credit card numbers they were able to find in my old browser history.
I can only imagine what kinds of nifty spyware they were able to install in an hour.
The only saving grace was that this laptop was up at the cottage which has something like a 14.4k internet speed. I can only imagine the scammers faces as they were waiting…and waiting…and waiting for their spyware to be installed.
Regardless, I still had to waste my time formatting the hard drive.
The “What’s Your Address I Want To Come For Photos” Scam
I’m not going to tell you my address because:
a) I don’t want you and everyone you sell my address to mail me crap I don’t want.
b) I don’t want you to show up at my studio and steal all of the expensive photo gear it has taken me years to pay off.
If you have called me or emailed me some time in the past because you actually did want to come in for photos, I am sorry I blew you off – but I get calls and emails like this all the time.
I never publish my actual studio address. If I do have to enter my physical address in a form somewhere, I use the address for a local public hall as my “business address”. I bet they get more unsolicited pens, SEO offers and catalogues for Chinese photography crap then they know what to do with.
General Internet Spam
I recently started using an Android smartphone that has a common email inbox for all my email accounts. I have one email account that I actually use, and another for all other online contact that I pretty much ignore.
For example, if I have to register for a website or something, I use the secondary email.
Until my email started coming to a common inbox, I had no idea how much crap is emailed to me on a daily basis.
(Technically this is not unsolicited spam email, I suppose I did somehow join these mailing lists at one point.)
Why does Facebook feel the need to email me if someone comments on one of my photos? And how does Facebook keep turning back on the notifications that I so carefully keep turning off? Stop notifying me! I’ll see it when I go to Facebook.
I also don’t care if Justin Bieber has Tweets waiting for me.
And, I don’t care what the daily deal is.
Just leave me alone!
The “Contact Form Submission Scam”
I only caught onto this one recently.
If you have a website you have probably heard that you should use a Contact Form instead of a “mailto” email link. The theory is that spambots can grab your email address from a “mailto” link, while an actual person has to enter their information into a Contact Form, and it keeps your actual email hidden.
The problem is that recently I have been getting inquiries via my actual website contact form that seem legit – except that when I reply – the scammers now have my actual email, the mailbox that my website Contact Form sends emails from, the subject line text that my website Contact Form uses and whatever else is in my email signature – such as name, phone number and address.
The next thing I know, I get a thousand emails that look exactly like they came from my legit website Contact Form – but they actually come from spammers sending me links to best price mobile app developers and SEO experts.
Oh – and if I accidentally click on one of those spam emails – the next day I’ll have five thousand spam fake Contact Form emails.
To combat this, I have added a captcha challenge to the Contact Form, I change the Contact Form subject line text monthly and I have set the Contact Form widget I use to capture the sender’s IP address. I also make sure that when I reply to an email that originated from my website’s Contact Form, I sanitize it of all identifiable content.
Blog Comment Spam
If you run a blog – you’ve seen blog comment spam like this:
Denmark cellular phοne rental can be a choice for anyone who
seldom go оverseas destinatіons.
Wе provide a great Denmark SIM card option for experienсеd touriѕts.
Obtain it today and start enјoyіng wireless flexibility without the high cost.
re-paid SIM cards and contracts would be the two options for mobilе telephones in Denmark.
Why spammers, why? Nobody wants your stinkin’ Danish SIM cards. Or best price for whatever.
Phone Spam and Phone Scams
Not only is it bad enough that I have to constantly ward off online scams and internet spam – they constantly call my phone too.
If anyone wants to start a Kickstarter campaign to hunt down the people behind the “Hello. Our records show…” calling list, I’m in. (I’ve never gotten past the “Our records show” bit because I’m usually too busy swearing at the phone).
How hard would it be to invent some sort of cell phone electrical shock system – so that the next time I get a phone call from the “Best America Bad Debt Collection Agency”, a credit card processor or SEO specialist it’s just a simple zzzzzzap!
On top of all the background level scams and spam there are also real hackers.
The people who steal the passwords and credit card information from companies like Adobe…Target…Sony…your bank…your government…
Come on big rich corporations. Get your $hit together. We trust you with our personal information.
Does it take some sort of global class action lawsuit before you take this stuff seriously?
Viruses, Scamware, Spyware and Bloatware
I lost one computer to a nasty internet virus years ago (the Chernobyl Virus) and ever since then I’ve used commercial anti-virus software and I’ve never had a problem again.
But that doesn’t help when everywhere you turn someone is trying to trick you into downloading some piece of junk add-on.
I have accidentally installed the blasted McAfee search bar thingie at least twice thanks to Adobe’s sneaky Flash updates.
And now my kids are downloading and installing software on their own too. Click, click click – boom they just installed a new game and some stupid photo viewer that just took over the default photo actions on my editing computer.
Stop packaging stuff I want with junk nobody wants. If nobody wants it, tricking people into installing it is not going to work.
Smartphone App EULA Permissions
No – I don’t want to give this app permission to access the internet, or my location, or my contacts or my photos and video.
But that’s not a choice – it’s all or nothing.
Is it just me or does it seem extremely unsettling that some guy who wrote the “Cute Kittens Daily” app in his mom’s basement now has access to whatever records his smartphone app just granted itself when I installed it?
Or worse yet, what exactly am I sending to apps distributed by Amazon or Google.
And how do I know it’s not actually the N.S.A. or the People’s Republic of China that’s distributing that innocuous little “Cute Kittens Daily App”?
I am the last person in the world that would ask for government legislation to control privacy – but in this case – how about making it illegal for app developers to force you to allow them access to anything they want in exchange for using their app.
At the very least, make it illegal for them to change their app EULA permissions to grab more data in the future. (Anyone have a Nest thermostat?)
What Internet Scams, Internet Spam or Phone Scams Have Caused You The Most Grief?
Are internet scams affecting the productivity of your photography business?
If you have come across an internet scam, internet spam or phone scam that is driving you crazy, leave a comment below and tell everyone about it!
You’ll feel better. I promise. Unless some Russian dude just bought a yacht with your credit card.
About The Author
JP Danko is a commercial photographer based in Toronto, Canada. JP
can change a lens mid-rappel, swap a memory card while treading water,
or use a camel as a light stand.
JP’s photography is available for licensing at Stocksy United.