Phishing Scams Target Some of the Biggest Online Brands

Amazon and PayPal are the best ways to make financial transactions online. WhatsApp is the secure messaging service with end to end encryption. Everyone uses Facebook and Gmail. What could go wrong?

If you think the best-known names on the internet are safe, it’s time to think again. Online criminals are getting smarter and sometimes the bigger the brand, the more worthwhile it is to invest in a scam that will actually fool people.

In the past, phishing emails were easy to spot, with bad grammar and spelling mistakes a native speaker wouldn’t make. Today, scammers not only use perfect English, they’ve often expertly matched the logo, style and URL, so it takes a careful comparison to see the difference. Meanwhile, legitimate sales platforms, such Facebook Marketplace, are full of people trying to convince you to hand over money for nothing in return.

Don’t assume anyone online is telling the truth unless you have verification from an independent source. It takes only a few seconds for hackers to steal financial details or infect your computer with malware that will allow them to access personal information. Help protect your privacy and safeguard the entire family’s reputation with ReputationDefender’s online privacy services. We’ll tell you about system vulnerabilities before they become a problem and help you deal with leaks after the fact. We’ll also keep you up-to-date on some of the most recent scams.

Companies to Double Check

Here are 6 well-known companies that have recently been targeted by scammers.

  • Amazon – Hackers have been sending convincing receipts for products that were never purchased complete with a link to follow if you want a refund. Don’t fall for it. Open a new browser window and sign into your real Amazon account to check your orders.
  • Apple – A group of scammers have been caught trying to convince people to pay off tax debt with iTunes gift cards. The message may come as a phone call, text or email claiming to be from the HMRC, but fraudsters ask for iTunes vouchers, which can be sold or traded anonymously, to pay off the overdue tax. The HMRC would never communicate in this manner and Apple doesn’t use iTunes as payment ‘outside of official stores’.
  • Facebook – Facebook Marketplace isn’t even a year old and it’s already full of scammers. Since there is no official payment method, it’s up to buyers and sellers to make an agreement. A number of fraudulent users have been insisting on payment via bank transfer, but once the money is turned over the product is never delivered and messages are blocked. Never agree to a bank transfer with someone you don’t know well; there are too many ways this can go wrong.
  • Google –A new Gmail scam has been scarily effective, even with tech savvy people who don’t usually fall for phishing. The trap appears to be an attached file from a contact, but instead it’s an embedded image which will take you to a Google sign-in window when you click on it. The window also appears legitimate, complete with ‘One Account, All of Google’ at the top of the page. However, once you enter your login details hackers have complete access to your account and start to target your contact list almost immediately. The only way to spot this scam is by noticing a subtle difference in the URL which begins with ‘data:text’ rather than ‘https’.
  • PayPal – Look for a warning that claims there’s been ‘unusual activity on your PayPal account’. The scammers have cleverly copied enough identifying marks to make the email look legitimate, but the clicking on the link will give them access to your account.
  • WhatsApp – WhatsApp users have reported messages claiming to offer free Sainsburys gift cards in celebration of new stores opening. Unfortunately the message has nothing to do with Sainsburys and clicking on the link will install malware that allows hackers to steal information from your phone.

New phishing scams appear all the time. Learning to recognise the signs will help protect your reputation and keep your information secure. For further questions or concerns about phishing scams, contact our experts at ReputationDefender.

Redesigning Your Website? Follow These 10 Steps to Keep Your Ranking

If you’ve been using the same website for a number of years, it’s probably time for a makeover. Designing an updated site is an exciting chance to give the brand a new image, but it can be challenging as well. What if the new look doesn’t resonate with customers? What about ranking the site for key brand-terms? Are you going to have to start over with promotion for the new site?

SEO is an Important Part of Redesign

Any entrepreneur thinking about updating their website should be asking these questions. Search engine reputation management, ranking the brand’s official website high on page one of a Google search, is vital to attracting and keeping customers. At ReputationDefender, we assist business clients with building a positive reputation that will make it easy for customers to find them online. A professional, well-optimised website is part of this.

The good news is it’s possible to design a new site without losing all the work you put into the old one. In fact, this can even be a good time to fix some of the issues that are still causing problems so the updated version actually generates more traffic. However, to be successful you’ll need to put a good deal of time and effort into SEO. It might be less interesting than the more artistic elements of a redesign, but it’s worth it in the long run.

10 Steps to Updating Your Site

If you’re working with a professional website building company, make sure you communicate your SEO needs from day one. Follow these 10 important steps to make sure you don’t lose ranking.

  • Crawl the old site. – This will give you a blueprint of the existing site’s structure, including meta data, titles, URLs etc.. You can then use this data as a roadmap for designing the updated site. To crawl your site, you will need the Screaming Frog SEO Spider Tool, or a similar type of software. Free versions of Screaming Frog are available, depending on the size and complexity of your site.
  • Run an SEO audit. – After crawling the site, it’s important to examine the data and identify errors or areas that aren’t performing well. This will help show what you need to change in the new design. Audit tools such as Woorank will do this for you, or you can manually go through the crawl-data to get a better feel for what the issues are . You’ll need analyse titles, H1 headings, meta descriptions, canonicals tags and alt-image text. Check for duplicate content, missing tags and broken links. Use Google’s analytics tools to verify how the pages are being indexed, and check speed and performance.
  • Block the test site. – Missing this step is one of the biggest mistakes you can make with a redesign. If Google indexes the test site as it’s being built, then the pages will be devalued as duplicate content when you launch the site for real. Fortunately, there’s a simple fix. WordPress and many other website-building platforms have a ‘noindex box’ which you can check to ‘discourage search engines from indexing this site’. Alternatively you can also block the site using the Robots.text file.
  • Crawl the test site. – Use the software from step one to crawl the test site. Save a copy of both crawls, the current site and the test site to use for editing.
  • Analyse and compare the data – Match up the page structure and headings that are working on the current site with corresponding elements on the test site. Fix the issues that were uncovered in the audit so they aren’t transferred into the redesign. Keep or promote pages that are working well.
  • Update URLs – If you don’t redirect the old URLs to the new site, you’ll get 404 ‘page not found’ errors. To fix this, you’ll need to first create a corresponding URL on the test site, then redirect the old address to link directly to this page.
  • Optimise New Content – Some new pages won’t have a match-up link in the old site. These will need to be optimised to use keywords in the title, URL and H1 headings. Make sure there’s only one H1 tag per page.
  • Optimise Links – Links are an important ranking factor, but it’s just as important not to overuse them. Limit yourself to links that are actually useful for SEO purposes. Use specific descriptive words in your CTAs so it will be easier for Google to index them and rank their importance.
  • Unblock the Site – Don’t forget to remove the ‘noindex’ tag before you go live.
  • Test Ranking – Once the site goes is up and running, you’ll still need to test how it’s performing for important keywords. Check Google’s indexing and analyse organic traffic. If there are problems, another SEO Audit like you did in Step 2 may be necessary to find and fix the issues.

Going through these steps will help to transfer the reputation capital you’ve worked so hard to build and that will save a lot of time and money once you start using the new site. If you are not familiar with technical SEO, consider getting professional help since this is a very important part of the process. Our experts at ReputationDefender work with new and well-established companies to make sure every update enhances the brand’s existing reputation.