Tag Archives: marketing

FTC gives free gift to consumers, cracks down on ‘free gift card’ spammers and robocallers

Robocallers and text message spammers are so frustrating. You probably know they’re trying to pull one over on you, but depending on your data and calling plan, you might have to pay a few cents just to be annoyed. Of course, actually believing the spam messages could cost you even more…

The Federal Trade Commission struck back against an international network of text spammers and robocallers operating “free gift card” scams. The scammers reportedly sent out millions of unsolicited text messages about “free” gift cards and electronics and seeking to lure consumers into a scheme designed to rip them off and target them for illegal robocalls.

The text messages promised free gifts or prizes, including gift cards worth $1,000 to major retailers such as Best Buy, Walmart and Target. According to the complaint, it was not possible in most or all instances for a consumer to receive the allegedly “free” merchandise without spending money, according to the complaint.

Consumers who clicked links in the messages were caught up in a confusing process that required them to give out personal information, apply for credit or pay to subscribe  to services to get the supposedly “free” gift cards.  Consumers’ phone numbers were then signed up to for unwanted telemarketing robocalls.

The FTC complaint builds on a nationwide sweep in March to crack down on scammers who using these deceptive spam text messages.

Nine defendants allegedly took part in the scheme, violating the FTC Act and the Telemarketing Sales Rule. The FTC seeks injunctions against the defendants to stop them from continuing their practices and requiring them to pay monetary relief.

Defendants are Acquinity Interactive, LLC, in Deerfield Beach, Florida; 7657030 Canada Inc., in Kirkland, Quebec, and doing business as Acquinity Interactive; Garry Jonas, an officer of Acquinity Interactive; Revenue Path E-Consulting Pvt Ltd, in Pune, India; Revenuepath Ltd, registered in Nicosia, Cyprus; Worldwide Commerce Associates, LLC, registered in Las Vegas, Nevada, also doing business as WCA; Sarita Somani, an officer of the Revenue Path defendants and Worldwide Commerce Associates; Firebrand Group S.L., LLC, registered in Las Vegas, Nevada; and Matthew Beucler, an officer of Firebrand.

– First appeared in Watch Your Buck


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Registries, awards and honors may come with a price tag you can’t afford

By Robb Hicken/ BBB’s chief storyteller

The email looks innocuous enough: Nice Recognition – Welcome to your nomination for The 2013 Global Professional Network Registry.

Sounds like a recognition as a good boss or employee to bolster the résumé.

But, digging deeper before signing up shows this is a professional employment services agency. By offering the “recognition” into the network’s registry, they are creating a list of professionals that is then sold. resume 150x150 7 Tips for Optimizing Your Professional Profile Blog Check out the company behind any such offer at bbb.org.

Employment Agencies, Executive Search Firms, Temporary Employment Agencies and similar companies offer people an alternative way of advertising their availability in the job market or improving their job seeking skills – registries, almanacs, listings. Each company has their own method and policies about screening and testing applicants which are dependent on the company’s area of specialization and the type of job you are seeking.

Some companies offer only training and consulting to job seekers; providing resume writing and coaching about positive interviewing techniques and similar subjects. Some agencies may charge a fee, either to you or the employer, should they help you in finding a job.

Signing up or registering with an employment agency or search firm is NOT a guarantee of employment. The only person who can get YOU a job is YOU. The amount of effort you put into your job search, your qualifications, the impression you give a prospective employer through your written & verbal skills-as well as in person, are what will help you in landing a new job.

BBB says people need to make sure they understand what services an agency or search firm offers and what they charge for those services, before signing anything.

Here are some tips to polish your electronic resume:

  1. Keep it up to date: Post as often as you can with any new changes, statements, or recommendations. Try getting a new recommendation once a month; or, if you receive multiple recommendations at once, spread them out in your postings.
  2. Refresh your keywords and specialties: Find popular terms from job search websites that describe specifically what you do and integrate them into your profile. Be careful not to overuse these keywords, however, and be sure to include them in a natural way.
  3. Be Everywhere: Create multiple online profiles, making sure your message is consistent throughout all of them. Participate in online discussions, post recommendations, and comment on blogs to get yourself out there!
  4. Get the recognition you deserve: Don’t be modest! If you have received any awards or have had special accomplishments, SHARE THEM!
  5. Diversity your professional and peer recommendations: Having recommendations from more than one group will add to your credibility. Don’t have all your recommendations come from your coworkers at your previous job, for example.
  6. Request personal and professional recommendations: Ask for specific recommendations, but always remember to say thank you. It is very important to show your appreciation, and little things like a thank you note or a $5 Starbucks card may help more than you think.
  7. Get involved in groups on LinkedIn and other job forums: Look for LinkedIn groups and job forums that relate to your specific career goals and get involved. Such groups and forums can be great ways to network with company executives and recruiters.

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Wear your competitor’s T-shirt or become a stronger content manager

By Robb Hicken/ BBB’s chief storyteller

Ah … the weekend. Time to relax, mow the lawn or do something crazy. That’s where the warning comes out of Rod Puzey, COO for Zenware, a business technology company in Boise.

“I tell my guys, ‘If you’re going to do something wild this weekend, at least wear our competitor’s T-shirt,'” he says.

Social media – YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, et al.– continue to be the places  “wild” weekends are posted. They also continue concern corporate officers who must manage the company’s brand.

“It’s a place where you can learn all about a person – good or bad,” Puzey says.

But, as Mark Ragan, of Ragan Communications told a Boise workshop of 40-plus content media managers this past week, social media shouldn’t be feared, but embraced for its ability to distribute  news about your business.

Corporations need to become obsessed with showing newsworthy items  on all channels, using various formats, while using journalistic excellence.

He offered 5 tips any business can add to create a strong content marketing platform and drive online visits and conversations.

Stop obsessing about channels. You don’t need a Facebook strategy. You need a CONTENT strategy. Brands need to focus on developing or curating great content before they focus on the channels they will use to distribute that content. If the content isn’t strong, the social network strategies will fall apart. Find your brand voice, decide what unique opinion or point of view you have to offer, and then develop creative ways to share.

You need great metrics to have great editorial. Knowing which stories are most popular will help define your editorial approach. Mark and his team of editors and writers are constantly reviewing their analytics. When a story pulls in lots of traffic, they repurpose it to death – creating quizzes, contests, white papers, videos, and follow-up articles to capitalize on its success. In order to stay in tune with what your audience wants, you need to stay in tune with your stats.

Email is still key. Ragan Communications has 16+ emails that it sends to fans of its five websites – and most of the traffic to their sites still comes from these emails. Mark believes in daily emails, even if you’re just sharing one story, to stay top-of-mind with your audiences.

Headlines! Teasers! Mark believes the greatest copy is scannable copy – and for good reason. He gets the most ROI from articles written as lists (i.e., 3 secrets to viral content from Sesame Street; Personal branding: 5 components to help you land a job). Make sure your headlines and teasers are engaging yet straightforward. They should describe the benefits of the story. Opt for usefulness over clever.

Never bore people. This may seem obvious, but it’s important to remember that whether you’re writing about the Academy Awards or changing the oil of a car, you need to make it interesting and appealing to your audiences. Cut out the jargon. Get to the point. And adding a funny picture won’t hurt.

If a company uses these steps, it can ease the worry of what wild weekend attire your employees are wearing – even if it has your logo.


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