Friday, June 16, 2006

Merchant Safety

Here at MerchantCircle we work hard to make our members more visible on the web. And it works. Our merchants see massive increases in their local visibility on the web within days of signing up with us. Frequently they can be found more easily because MerchantCircle local profiles appear among the top links in search engine results. We want to drive as many customers to our members' businesses as we can. However, some local searchers, not surprisingly, are not prospective customers. They're folks wanting to sell stuff - or even scam - our visible members. This seems to be just a trade off of being a highly visible business on the web.

Nonetheless, we want to help our merchants avoid scammers. In our book, they're not much better than Tony Soprano. There are a plethora of Internet scams, and we want to help you avoid them. Here's a list of Internet scams that our merchants should look out for as well as measures to take if they feel they're being taken advantage of:

1. Internet Advertising Hoax: Beware of companies wanting you to purchase Internet advertising packages. These companies frequently call prospects directly because they're promising to increase your traffic -- guaranteed. Of course, no one can guarantee results. Not even us. And that's why their pitches arrive via phone, because putting that guarantee in writing would expose their nefarious practices.

2. Phishing Scams: Phishing is the term used to describe criminal attempts to fraudulently acquire sensitive information, such as password and credit card data, by pretending to be a trustworthy business or official communication from a business you may know. If you're contacted by someone requesting billing information or other account details, stop. Never give out sensitive information. At MerchantCircle, we only request identifying information at signup, and we don't contact our merchants for additional updates. If you have any issues with billing or any other information, please contact our support team at

3. Fake Prizes: We love to show our appreciation to all our merchants from time to time, and so we often give away prizes randomly. However, when receiving a notification of your prize, you'll rarely be contacted by phone and most importantly you'll never be asked to divulge personal information, such as your credit card details. If someone contacts you claiming to be a MerchantCircle representative, they can easily be spotted as fake if they ask for personal information.

We're excited by the opportunities the Local Internet offers to local businesses. That's why we started MerchantCircle - because we want to see local businesses thrive by leveraging the Internet to drive more local customers to their businesses. When it comes to scammers, however, we have zero tolerance. If you feel you may have been contacted by a scammer, report it to us at Include as much information as possible so we can track them down. We'll fight on your behalf and on behalf of all our merchants.


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