Scam Alert: Consumer Protection Warns of Fake Web Hosting Billing Invoice
Friday, August 2nd 2019 – The Department of Consumer Protection (DCP) is warning businesses about a fake invoice scam that has hit Connecticut. These invoices claim to be from “Web Host Agents,” and ask for payment to host the recipient’s website so it remains active and is not taken down. DCP received their first complaint about this scam this week, and has learned there have been dozens of complaints with regulatory agencies in other states.
“Unfortunately, there are scammers who try to take advantage of business owners who are simply trying to better assist their customers and communities, and pay their bills in a timely manner,” said Consumer Protection Commissioner Michelle H. Seagull. “Think twice before paying an unfamiliar invoice. If you have doubts that an invoice is legitimate, don’t provide payment or personal information.”
If you receive a document that appears to be a billing invoice from an organization or business you are unfamiliar with, always read the fine print. In this case, at the end of the message, it states that “you are under no obligation to pay the amounts stated here within.” However, because the fake invoice first lists an “amount due” and provides a due date, it can deceive businesses into falsely believing they are required to make this payment.
Here’s how to recognize the signs of a fake invoice scam:
- The invoice comes from an unfamiliar organization or business.
- The language pressures you to act quickly, or face the consequences. In this case, the invoice claims that failure to renew web hosting by the due date can result in “web outages” and a “loss of your online identity,” and warns that this can make it difficult for customers to reach you on the web.
- The amount of money you are being asked to pay is atypical for the product or service listed on the invoice. In this case, a balance of $180 to host a website for a year is unusually high without details about additional services included in the cost.
If you believe you’ve fallen victim to a scam, please file a complaint with DCP by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
A picture of the invoice can be found below:
Lora Rae Anderson
(860) 713-6019 (office)
(860) 247-8711 (cell)