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. We do everything we can to support you with the resources and knowledge you need to grow your wedding business here at The Knot and WeddingWire. 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 maybe 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 what is being seen most often, but there is one in particular that is important to know about. 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 who is 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 now 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 cancelled— and the vendors turn out to be fake.
This scam is far from harmless since it can leave you out hundreds or thousands 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 it might come through. Whether it be DM, an email or inquiry, it is important for you to understand what the “red flags” are so you can better spot them (and subsequently do the necessary research). When it comes to fake leads and wedding scams, here are the things you should pay close attention to in order to identify red flags:
- If someone requests to take the conversation they started online, offline right away
- If someone refuses to get on the phone with you
- If you’re being rushed to make decisions or commitments (if there is also a very short turnaround time or timeline that is also a flag)
- 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 use of punctuation in the initial request
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 it is mostly about having a few practices in place. There are also things you can have as an extra layer of protection. This is nowhere near an exhaustive list but is definitely a place to start:
- Educate any and all team members about what a fake lead looks like and the scams you have heard about
- 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
Know of more additional red flags or scams we should add to this piece? Let us know and we’ll add it to help this amazing community of pros to protect themselves.
Photo Credit: Chutimun Kasun/Shuttestock.com