I am mad. And I am sure you will be as well. I was recently reading a local news paper story and came across an article about one of my competitors.
You are probably thinking that I am disturbed about the PR my competition is getting. But, it’s not the good type of publicity. In fact, he is receiving several complaints and has criminal charges brought against him.
You might be wonder why I care. Actually, why am I not happy? One of my competitors is out of the picture. I should be jumping around for joy, right?
Wrong! This is the type of publicity which hurts all of us in this industry. It makes us ALL look bad.
Fortunately, there are simple ways you can protect yourself from this type of scammer. And once you have read this entire article you will know a few of the most common scams and how to avoid them.
Domain Ownership Stealing Scam
Your domain name is like the street address of your store. Chances are you spent a lot of time researching the right name for your domain. It might be your brand, your business name or just the perfect name that customers will type into their browser.
But, in this scam, the web designer takes ownership of your name. He now owns it. If at some time in the future, you want to work with a different designer, you can't. Or maybe someone comes along and gives him a better offer, and bam, your great name is gone.
This is actually one of the scams that my competitor was pulling. And by the sound of it, he was pulling it all over town.
Make sure your web design contract spells out who owns the name. And make sure it is you.
Better yet, register it yourself, in your name. And just give your designer access to use it. If you don't know how, ask your designer. Any honest designer will tell you.
I register client’s domains for them all the time, but as a convenience to them. Not as a money maker. If they would like to register their own, I am more than happy to let them.
Web Designer Hosting your Web Site Scam
On the surface, this doesn't sound that bad. In fact, it could be quite convenient. One company handles your hosting and your web design.
The problem with this type of deal is it allows you very little control. What if you and your web designer have a falling out? They could just shut you down, with no warning to you.
What if they suddenly go out of business? Now your website, which you paid all that money for, is dead. And there is no way to get it back. You need to start over from scratch.
This is an area you need to be very careful with. It could go bad even if the web designer is not a scammer.
It’s always best to keep these 2 areas separate. But if you do combine them, only do so if all of the below points are true.
- There is a strong financial trust for the company. This is not an arrangement you want to get into with Joes Web Design on the corner.
- If you are confident of the Web Designer / Web Host (see above point), make sure it is spelled out in the contract who owns the site, so there is no confusion later.
- Ensure that once the site is paid for in full, that you have access to the site through a password. With the greatest access rights possible. Get yourself a backup.
Once again, keeping these arrangements as separate as possible is best. Its one thing if the web designer recommends a host (I often due). It’s another if he forces you to choose a specific host, or owns the host himself. This sounds like a scam.
Website Cramming / Freebie Scam
You have probably noticed the free website offers out there. The ones that start out with a free web design if you signup for hosting. These sound great, but …
There are several problems you could run into. The two scams listed above to start with.
But there are others. Some companies take your credit card number but tell you they won't charge for a few months. Some of these companies are “almost” legit and tell you that you need to cancel. But, if you forget, they will charge you. This is like the “Get 10 records for 10 cents” offers on TV.
Other companies will down right lie, and just steal your info and begin charging you. Generally, you get what you pay for, and if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
There are a few exceptions out there, but deal with reputable companies if you go the “FREE” route.
Microsoft Live and Yahoo offer a free website hosting and template package that works pretty well. They aren’t great, and your site will probably look like a template. But they are better than a fly-by-night company that offers a bunch of freebies and then rips you off.
There are many web design firms out there that will try scam you. And you need to be on the look out for them. But …
Fortunately, there are several — in fact I would say most, which are very honest and hard working.
You are now armed with knowledge about some of the scams to look out for. Once you find a good web designer, use them, even if they cost a little more. And tell your friends.