What to be aware of and how to protect yourself from fraud
The internet is an incredible tool for connecting people and helping them find what they need. But, as much as we love it for all the things it allows us to do, the internet is also a place where anonymity can create an environment ripe for fraud. And, the truth is, even though we all might think we’d never fall for a scam or can spot a fake inquiry from a mile away, that everyone is at risk and can find themselves in an unfortunate situation.
Here at The Knot and WeddingWire, we do everything we can to support you as you grow your wedding business. From webinars to get you the most up-to-date insights about couples to blog posts that help you create a plan to market your business, we want to take some time today to help you do one of the most important things—protect it.
Whether you are just starting out in the wedding industry or have seen something suspicious in the past, read on to make sure you are knowledgeable about how to spot a fake wedding lead or scam as well as learn the things you can do in order to protect yourself from fraud.
Understand the common scam
Unfortunately, there are many wedding scams on the internet and it can be hard to keep up with all of them. We know these scams can affect your business, so we have taken strides to reduce the number of spam messages reaching your inbox, including implementing processes and investing in product updates designed to fortify our product against spam.
Naturally, due to the nature of spam and the consistent evolution of internet scams, there will be a few spam leads that will slip through the cracks because they are done in a more targeted, nuanced way and we want to make sure you know what the most common scams look like so you can be prepared.
Sometimes called the “Overpayment” or “Advanced Fee” scam, here are the details of how this particular wedding scam plays out.
A couple, inquiry or lead in the booking process with you offers to pay you an amount greater than what you require for your deposit. They say they want to do this because they’d like to have you pay other vendors they have already hired because they don’t accept credit cards or online forms of payment. The person offers to send a check or asks to pay you with a credit card right then so you can send cash to the other vendors. After you’ve paid the other vendors, the check bounces or the credit card charge is canceled—and the vendors turn out to be fake. Alternatively, they can ask you for cash that they’ll “reimburse” at a later date.
This scam is far from harmless since it can leave you out hundreds of dollars. So, what is the moral of this story? You should never pay vendors you don’t know and always do your best to vet any request that involves money.
Red flags to look for
There is a potential for fraudulent leads and requests regardless of what channel they come through. Whether it be DM, an email or an inquiry, it is important for you to understand what the “red flags” are so you can better spot them. When it comes to fake leads and wedding scams, here are the red flags you should pay close attention to:
- If someone requests to take the conversation they started online, offline right away
- If someone refuses to get on the phone with you, even after several positive exchanges or when it makes sense to move conversation to a faster line of communication
- If you’re being rushed to make decisions or commitments
- If someone requests your bank account and/or routing information
- If someone requests your cell phone number and pushes to communicate with you via text instead
- If someone gives you an alternate email address and asks you to send the information they are requesting there instead
- If someone gives you an email address that does not match their name or is an illegible string of numbers and characters
- If someone uses poor grammar and no punctuation in the initial request
- Counterintuitively, it can be someone offering to overpay you “just in case”
How to protect yourself from fraud
Making sure you are protecting yourself and your business from fake leads or wedding scams isn’t complicated and relies on having a few practices in place. Here’s some ways you can get started::
- Educate any and all team members about what a fake lead looks like and the scams you have heard about
- Create policies and guidelines explicitly explaining why this is not a service you can provide and talking points for your team members to be equipped them with in-moment requests
- Make sure you are confirming your leads are real people (this is why phone calls are important)
- Never pay another wedding vendor you don’t know or can’t verify on the internet
- Never wire money or give cash on behalf of a client
- Have business insurance
- Have a business credit card that has fraud protection and never use your debit card for anything but an in-person transaction
Pro-tip: If you’re curious about how to improve your lead responses so you can engage and connect deeper with real couples, this webinar with Educator Alan Berg will give you the tips you need.
Know of more additional red flags or scams we should add to this piece? Let us know by emailing email@example.com and we’ll add it to help this amazing community of pros to protect themselves.
Photo Credit: Chutimun Kasun/Shuttestock.com