We’ve all seen a scammy email.
You wake up one day and are told by email that you are the new, proud owner of a castle in some obscure, foreign land. It’s everyone’s dream, right?
And it can all be yours with a small payment of 1000 dollars of the local currency for admin purposes, naturally. Which is the equivalent of $100USD.
Who wouldn’t take advantage of such an amazing opportunity? Thankfully, a lot of us wouldn’t.
While we may be used to getting these kinds of over-the-top, ridiculous emails, the potential for hazard from some scam emails is not so amusing. We know they exist, but like all things that hold immense risk, we only think they happen to others.
Lately, in the business world, plenty of heads are being turned by fake DMCA scammers. For a business, this type of email can make your heart skip a beat because your first reaction is to want to resolve the alleged issue without thinking it through.
So, what does it mean when the unthinkable happens? How should you react and what’s more important? How do you spot it before things go too far?
What’s a DMCA Notice
First, let’s make sure we all know what a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedown notice is: It’s a warning that you have breached and infringed copyright laws due to copyrighted materials being used on your website.
The offending materials would need to be removed, or else nasty consequences can ensue.
Ultimately receiving a notice like this is not something to be taken lightly, and the fakers know this.
A fake notice will have the recipient pressured to make a decision: Either ignore it and risk fines or click on the links in the email, thus falling prey to the scammers’ first trap. Scammers understand this fear and the dilemma that follows. They understand human nature very well. The need to protect ourselves by doing the “right thing” is something they prey on.
And so, they make it almost impossible to say no.
Hone Your Scam Email Awareness Chops
How? By arming yourself to recognize a fake.
It’s getting harder and harder to spot an email that has underlying malice, but there are a few things you can do to start the discovery of fake or not.
- Scammers now pose as a law firm, claiming they represent a client who is unhappy with your website content.
What to do: Research that law firm, and if it is an actual company, contact them and advise them you have received an email concerning copyright infringement from them. If they do not appear to be contactable in any way, go further by seeking information on their registration as a business, their street address and legitimate contact details.
- Scammers sometimes use a familiar company name or a business you have an existing relationship with
What to do: Right-click on the email sender’s name. This will usually tell you the email address of the sender. If it looks like something you’ve never used or made contact with, it’s probably a scam email.
Should I Have Expected This?
Ahh…officialdom. To know it is to love it, right? Keep in mind it is there to protect us.
If you run red lights, chances are at some point you will get caught. If your habits run to disobeying the things that keep society generally in check, those behaviors will likely get you in strife.
Have a think about your activities and whether you should be worried about not doing the right thing. If taking images and content is something you see as your right, then you could probably expect to be caught.
These things are taken quite seriously, and rightly so. Copyright breaches are a part of the law, just like the theft of anything else.
Receiving a DMCA notice should come as a shock if you do what is right and avoid what is wrong.
What Can I do to Avoid Getting a DMCA Notice?
Understanding the laws of copyright is important. The breach will see you confronted sooner or later.
Make sure you are mindful of the following.
- Don’t copy and paste text from websites you don’t own. That is simply plagiarism.
- Don’t use images from a google image search on your website. Find other sources for images such as Pixabay, Pexels, and Unsplash.
- Use pay-for-use stock photo websites. That will charge you for use, but at least you know you have obtained images legally.
Where Do I Get Help If DMCA Phishing Happens to Me?
Your web hosting company should be more than happy to look at this type of correspondence for you.
Talk to your IT department or a local cyber security expert for guidance.
This kind of scam is something you need to make others aware of. Don’t keep it to yourself if it happens to you. Forewarned is forearmed. We all need to be more aware. Without it, the scammers often win.
Being aware is everything. Not only does it help you avoid possible attacks, but it will give you a level of confidence that you have a bit more control than previously.
Understanding and educating yourself on the laws which govern us within the copyright world won’t hurt either. In fact, will serve you well.
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