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  • Scam Alert: Watch out for marketing services that don’t deliver

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    July 27, 2021

    BBB® Tuesday Tips

    These Marketing Services 

    Make Empty Promises

    If you own a small business, watch out for scammy marketing services. BBB Scam Tracker has received numerous reports of phony services tricking small business owners into signing monthly contracts. But these con artists fail to deliver what they’ve promised. 

    How the Scam Works

    You get a cold call, email, or a social media post for a low-cost, small business marketing service that sounds like the perfect way to boost visibility for your business. The company claims they offer public relations, search engine optimization or other general marketing support. These “services” make big promises about the number of new customers they will be able to send your way.

    Once you sign up and submit payment, the company becomes hard to pin down. They might give you a delivery date for marketing materials, but constantly postpone it or simply stop replying. In most cases, you’ll be hard pressed to get in contact with someone once you’ve been billed for the services. Several BBB Scam Tracker reports complain of being charged months after they cancel. 

    One victim lamented, “This company refuses to cancel my service so they can automatically re-bill me for a service I don’t want. I have a pending chat response on FB, their website and via their email and they are ignoring me.” 

    How to Avoid Scam Services

    • Double check the contact information. One giveaway that you are dealing with a scammer is that the company has no telephone number or physical address. If there is a phone number, call it to make sure it’s in service. If a physical address is provided, look it up to see if it is really associated with the company name.
    • Reach out to references. If the company provides references, contact them. Make certain it is possible to actually contact the people on the list and look them up online to make sure they are real people with legitimate small businesses like yours.
    • Make sure you understand exactly what you are paying for. A reputable company will be able to clearly describe their services and their timeline before signing up for anything. 
    • Use safe payment methods. Never send money to a person or company via wire transfers, cryptocurrency, or pre-paid debit cards. If someone asks you for payment this way, it’s probably a scam. Always pay with your credit card. Should a problem arise later on, the charges can be disputed.

    Additional Information

    See the BBB tip on marketing strategies for small businesses and read tips for hiring a marketing agency. Visit the BBB Small Business Resources page for more business tips.

    If you’ve spotted a scam (whether or not you’ve lost money), report it to BBB.org/ScamTracker. Your report can help others avoid falling victim to scams. Find more information about scams and how to avoid them at BBB.org/AvoidScams

     

    Photo Courtesy of Getty Images

    BBB of Northwest Florida

    912 E. Gadsden Street

    Pensacola, FL 32501

    850.429.0026

    Contact:
    Tammy Ward, Communications Director
    tammy@nwfl.bbb.org, (850) 429-0002