Unfortunately being a professional photographer means that there are people out there who will try to take advantage of you and take your money or personal information. As a wedding photographer, I feel you are even more vulnerable due to the amount of money that can change hands planning a wedding, and scammers use that to take advantage. Here are some scams that you should watch out for as a photographer:
The Obvious Scams
There are obvious attempts to scam wedding photographers that most people pick up on right away. The messages that just don’t make sense whether the email they give is just a series of numbers and letters or the person messaging you gives the entire address of the wedding venue in their inquiry to make it seem more legitimate. Or they use phrases that feel like they just typed a sentence into Google Translate and this is what they got.
Another one I have noticed is that if they ask you for a lot of information like “What is your street address?” in the initial email, it’s a phishing scam and they’re trying to steal your identity.
Coming From “Outside the Country”
This can be tricky. I do have a lot of potential clients coming in from Europe and other parts of the world who are eloping to my area of the United States. However, where you can detect that this is most likely a scam is if they are planning a supposedly large scale event and say they won’t be in the country until the day of the wedding. Or they are planning/paying for the wedding for one of their children and the person paying is going to be out of the country and somehow the child is also unavailable.
This type of scam normally leads to the next warning sign…
Method of Payment is Unorthodox
When a potential client asks you for your bank information so they can “wire the money” to you, stop and ask them if they can pay via credit card. Do not EVER give a potential client your bank info.
If they say they are going to send you a bank check, raise the red flags! This is a common scam which usually coincides with overpaying and they ask for a refund of the excess amount. And then you find out the check is forged.
If they say they are going to OVERPAY you and then have YOU pay other vendors, RUN AWAY IMMEDIATELY. This is never your responsibility as the wedding photographer. If this is the sort of service they need, they should hire a planner. Again, they will ‘overpay’ and then ask you to wire or send money to other vendors to pay them with the excess and then a few weeks after you’ve deposited the check it comes back as cancelled or a fake.
A Couple of Scams You May Not Have Heard Of
These scams are a little more insidious because they don’t come at you pretending to be a potential client. Oh no. They come at you from the business side.
Google Business Verification
A word to the wise. Google does not have people calling you to confirm your Google Business listing. I have received THOUSANDS of these calls over the years. Sometimes I get a dozen of them a day!!!
How does it work? They will say they are from a company who has been hired by Google to confirm Google Business listing information and that your business listing will not be active until you confirm that information.
They’re trying to A) get a recording of you saying certain things so they can play that back over the phone to steal your identity and/or B) getting you to reveal personal information about yourself.
I once picked up the phone accidentally when there was an actual person on the other end of the call instead of an automated robo-call. The woman told me that I absolutely had to give her this information or people wouldn’t be able to find my business on Google.
That is false.
She also told me that Google hires other companies to contact businesses to confirm their information because there are so many listings and Google can’t confirm them all.
Also, false. Google has the ability to make automated calls if they needed to do this, but, the fact is, they don’t need to confirm through a third party. They already have your information.
A Guest Post on Your Blog
This may be the most insidious scam attempt of all because they reach out like they are going to do you a service. They want to write a free guest post on your blog!
If you reply that you’re interested, they will try to get the login to your website so that they can write the blog post for you. They will then hijack your website and hold it for ransom.
Also, they will continue to pester you with follow up emails if you don’t respond and if you click the ‘unsubscribe’ or ‘don’t send me any more emails like this’ link in their emails, you are sent to a phishing site.
How to Protect Yourself
Here are some ways to protect yourself from people trying to scam wedding photographers:
- Contact the venue and see if there is someone booked for the proposed date and what their name is
- If they don’t have a venue, tell them you don’t book weddings without a venue being booked (which is just something you should do anyway)
- Never give out personal information (whether it is website passwords or bank account information or anything else that can be used to guess passwords or steal your identity)
- Don’t click on suspicious links!!
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