Email

Fan or Scam

Recently, I encountered a new type of email scam. Well, it actually found me by way of my inbox, but the nature of the scam was beyond laughable. It’s triggered by someone subscribing to my newsletter.

Rest assured that my mailing lists have not been tampered with in any way. This scam originates from the subscriber end. Let me set the stage.

I have two active mailing lists: one for the Editor’s Blog (subscription tools found on the sidebar and at the bottom of this post), and another for my personal blog. I have the two blogs because there are some things that I feel I need to say that have no place on this blog (or vice versa). It’s about attracting the right audience to the separate sites.

Both mailing lists are currently run using MailChimp. That may change as the lists grow in size, but for the moment MailChimp serves my purposes.  For the most part, I employ a double opt-in system. This means that once someone signs up to the mailing list from one of the signup widgets, they get sent an email requesting confirmation of their subscription. This is good practice to have, as it helps to eliminate issues with bots that phish for random emails and the like. Double opt-in does have its issues too, a topic for a future blog post, but in my recent experience, it was the double opt-in that saved me from the scam.

Now, let’s fast forward to the nature of the scam itself.

Spam has become a problem worldwide. With everything being connected to email nowadays, it’s not surprising that many marketers are targeting email. And it doesn’t take much to have your email become bogged down by spam. Just sign up to the gym, or to Aunt Tilly’s knitting circle, and the next thing you know… ads galore. It’s because of the spam issues that legislation has come into play to help regulate a very real problem.

Hidden Traps by Judy L MohrThere is actually an incredibly simple way to manage the spam issue yourself, something that I talk about in depth in my book Hidden Traps (and an older blog posts like Save Me From Spam Hell). However, some see the spam problem as an opportunity to earn a few quick dollars.

Spam filtering services have been around for some time. Most email servers now include a spam filter of some description. Even Gmail has one built in. However, some people find that they aren’t enough, and hence will pay for an external service.

Enter the latest scam. There are now services out there that will charge for people to send you an email. Basically, someone sends you an email and your spam filter service sends the sender an email demanding that the sender pay money to have the email delivered into the recipient’s inbox. One such service is BitBounce.

I should point out that from my little research into BitBounce, it is a new company and are a legitimate service, providing a unique solution to a very real problem. However, it’s the charlatans using this service that turn it into a scam.

Now for how this new scam came across my radar.

If you signup to either one of my mailing lists using the sidebar tools, you will trigger the double opt-in, meaning you’ll get sent an email to confirm your subscription. However, earlier this week, I was sent an automated email in response to the double opt-in confirmation email, telling me that I needed to pay a small Credo fee to have my email delivered. There was an alternative: to say that I knew the person and that they should add me to their whitelist.

This set off alarm bells.

I know exactly what triggered this particular email being sent to me, because the subject of the email was Re: Judy L Mohr, Writer and Freelance Editor: Please Confirm Subscription. Not only does the subject of the email tell me that it was the double opt-in that triggered it, but it was a subscription to my personal blog.

But there is more to this scam.

The purpose behind a mailing list is such that you can subscribe to have things sent to you without providing full details of your email. Yes, the person who owns the mailing list will still have access to your email address; however, if they’re like me, the really can’t be bothered sending out individual emails — hence, the mailing list in the first place.

This “you need to pay” email shows the email address of the person who supposedly subscribed to my mailing list. So, even if they NEVER confirm their subscription, I now have their email to do with as I please. Not that I will do anything with it. I really can’t be bothered. (I’m sorry, dear Silly Scammer on Gmail, other than this particular post and highlighting this scam to me, you not important enough to warrant any more of my energy or time.)

Here’s the deal: If you CHOOSE to pay for an mailing list service to help you manage your mailing list, that is entirely up to you. That is something that is 100% in your control, and for large lists, it’s definitely something worth looking into. However, you should NEVER pay to have your newsletters or emails delivered to an individual recipient.

Consider this: the email that was blocked was a “confirm your subscription” email. If I was to pay to have that email delivered, there is no guarantee that the recipient will actually confirm their subscription. And if they did actually confirm their subscription, would I get another email in the near future asking to pay more money to have a newsletter that they subscribed to delivered? I’m sorry, but I don’t care if the fee is only 1 cent. If you are asking me to pay to have my newsletters delivered into your inbox, then you are highly unlikely to buy any of my books or contract my services. You are a connection that I don’t want.

Email lists are just one of the many methods of connecting with your readers; however, they are not foolproof. You will still have those who sign up and never do anything with your emails (just delete them), but there is no reason why should pay to have someone on your list you know is just a spam collector.

This particular internet-related trap is not covered in my book Hidden Traps, as it was a new one to me, but you will find information about mailing lists and how to deal with spam yourself, along with other useful hints about building platforms and some of the traps waiting to capture the unsuspecting writer.

Hidden Traps

Hidden Traps

There are so many different elements that go into forming an online platform, but there are many traps that writers are unaware of. Are your social media posts just links with a few disjointed words, making you look like someone who can’t complete a sentence? Were you hit with charges you never expected when you created that website? Are you leaking your personal contact details across the web without even knowing it?

Learn about many of the hidden traps of building an online writer’s platform, and how to avoid them. At the end of the day, it’s about protecting yourself and your reputation.

More info →
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© Copyright, Judy L Mohr 2017

Posted in Hidden Traps, Social Media, Warnings, Writer Platform and tagged , , , .

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