Here is the spam email in question
Recently, one of our clients contacted Industrial NetMedia in a panic. They had received an unsolicited email about their INM-designed website. The email claimed their company pages contained broken links, lousy SEO and 404 errors. "Luckily", the email promised they could fix every problem for a one-time fee of just $200.00. Such a deal!
Our content people immediately conducted a site review. It showed the claims to be false. There weren't any loading or link problems and the SEO elements were still in place. Our client had suspected the warning email was from a spammer. The review confirmed his suspicions the offer was bogus. He said it was like "paying someone to prevent vampires from attacking". Still, he was curious why he received this email in the first place. "Doesn't Canada have anti-spam legislation?" he asked.
In Canada, This Is the Law
Our website customer was quite correct. Canada does have well-defined anti-spam laws. These laws prevent companies from sending mass emails to recipients who have not agreed to receive them. They also force companies to record all permissions they receive to be able to prove they have them. Unfortunately, though, the federal government can only make rules for Canadian companies. Non-Canadian firms can spam anyone they want.
A Great Law... if observed by all nations
The legislation prohibits practices like:
- Sending unrequested commercial emails and social media posts;
- Forwarding emails without recipient permission;
- Installing programs on someone's computer without their knowledge or approval;
- Using false information to promote services;
- Harvesting personal information or electronic addresses without permission.
Again, these rules only apply to Canadian businesses. If you receive spam, it's probable it came from another country. It's doubtful anyone needs to be warned about unsolicited offers from foreign lands. We've all heard from the Nigerian prince with banking problems, after all.
Who might spam me? What will they say?
There are a variety of offers these spammers will make in these emails. Many sound quite legitimate and use current web marketing jargon to gain your trust. Here are just some of the offers and specials we have encountered:
- Domain Registrars and resellers; "Since you own one domain, you should buy these other ones!". (i.e. same URL but with a different ending; .ca, .com, .net or .org are examples.)
- Domain Services; Some search engine scammers will try to trick you into buying "magic services". They guarantee they are "registered with the search engines". Their emails often have warnings such as, "Failure to complete this order by 08/21 may result in cancellation of this offer. This will make it difficult for your customers to locate you, using search engines on the web."
- Sales Leads - Spammers also offer selling aids such as sales calling campaigns, cold calling services, and automated marketing initiatives. It is a sneaky way of getting your client lists.
- SEO Experts - Spam emails might offer to improve your website's SEO (Search Engine Optimization). They even guarantee you top spot in Google, DuckDuckGo and Bing. The reality is search ranking position depends on many variables including the age of your site. Honest SEO providers like INM can optimize a website to improve ranking over time, but changes aren't immediate like spammers promise.
- SMO Experts - SMO stands for Social Media Optimization. Like empty SEO promises, SMO 'gurus" make lofty claims, too. They usually promise to boost "organic reach" of your website. via Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and other social media platforms. Using social media is a good plan, but make sure you get value for your money.
- Marketing Consultants -This is the type of spam that our customer was spammed with and can be viewed here. Like similar emails, they begin with a fear statement such as, "You have so many errors with your website." If you are with a reputable web design company like INM, you can be sure your website has been designed to the SEO standards of the day they were created.
- Phishing - This type of attack is an attempt by bad guys to get sensitive information from your computer through email trickery. You will get an email with a vague, but specific sounding subject line and a link in the body of the email that you'll be sorry if you click on it. The link is often a virus, spyware or other form of dangerous malware. Here are some examples of these phishing email subject lines: "Order Confirmation", "Bank Notice", "PayPal Notice", "Your Account", "Your Purchase", "Confirm your account information", "Log into your webmail", "Your account has been flagged", and "Google Offers".
- Offshore Developers - Sometimes scam emails come from "local" developers who actually have their office in India or Pakistan. These not-so-local service providers generally offer suspiciously inexpensive websites, branding initiatives and SEO services.
- Collaborative Partnerships - Also known as "white label suppliers", this type of attack consists of an offer to work together on a project to share risk and minimize costs. The real purpose, though, is to get your client list with contact information in order to steal your customers.
- Ransomware - This very serious attack can shut down your computers remotely and encrypt all your data. You will have to either pay the ransom that will be demanded or pay to have computer experts remove the encryption. A full explanation of ransomware can be found here.
Other topics spammers use to get their foot in the door include:
- Personnel matters - IT, staffing, outsourcing, temporary workers, sales gimmicks. Although you might need new staff, these emails originate from out of country. Can they really help you?
- Government Funding Offers - "Secret ways" to get in on government funding programs for business, grants, tax breaks and loans. The only one that gets paid is the scammer.
- Directory Listings - List your business in our directory and you will magically get loads of website traffic.
What To Do When Spam Happens?
There isn't much you can do if you receive a spam email like our client did, other than to let INM know it occurred. You can assure yourself your site is fine by checking each page for errors and broken links, too. Chances are, the effort would be wasted, as no problems are usually found. Spammers don't need to look at your site to make their claims. They just need gullible spam email recipients.
Is there room for improvement in my website?
There may be issues with your website depending on the age of it. Like virtually everything else in life, web pages must be continually maintained for best performance. Search sites like Google often change the rules regarding how websites rank and each change should be reflected in your website. For example, it wasn't so long ago "mobile responsiveness" wasn't even a thing. Now, if your site isn't designed to be equally readable on a 28" computer monitor as it is on a 3" smartphone screen, Google will punish you with low search rankings. You can learn more about Google and mobile responsiveness here.
What is my next step?
INM is currently offering a free website review for all of our clients. We can go through your site to make sure it is up to date with the latest SEO protocols and is mobile responsive. If any improvements need to be made we can work out what will work best to realize the goals you have for your site with various add-ons such as:
- Eye-catching home page photo rotators for heightened visitor engagement;
- Blog and newsletter systems for enhanced industry authority and visitor engagement;
- FAQ page to reduce time-wasting phone calls;
- Testimonial areas to share positive client experiences;
- Social media links and buttons, including full posting and monitoring packages with the most popular platforms including Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Yelp and more.
To discuss this, or any other issue, with your INM web design team, give us a call or contact us here. Besides making great-looking web sites, and customized software for business, we also provide peace of mind for our clients. Ask us how today.