Backlink photo credit scams are, unfortunately, becoming a more common problem found online. The typical set-up is you receive an email from someone, usually posing as a client or “on behalf of” a client claiming you’re using one of their copyrighted images. The emails will usually ask you to put a clickable link underneath the photo and claim removing the photo is not an option.
It can be an extremely worrying email to receive, so we’ve put together some tips to help you avoid these scams.
It can be very unsettling receiving one of these messages, especially since it looks like you may be faced with legal action, but there is no reason to panic. If your website has been built by an agency or professional, they will have sourced images from stock image sites where the creators are already credited. This means any claims that your website is using an image without permission is false, and you are under no obligation to remove the image, add any links they send you, or even respond to the email.
Spot a scam
If you created the website yourself, there is also no need to panic. Being able to spot a scam email from an official one is incredibly important to know where you stand in these situations.
First of all, does the email look legitimate? This is getting harder to judge these days as the emails can look incredibly convincing and some scammers have even been known to create fake profiles to convince people their email is official. Make sure you do your research around the company the email is from or any people or clients mentioned.
It’s important to note that, while many associate scam messages with a sense or urgency, many of these emails do not tend to do this. They are often worded politely, giving the impression they don’t mind you using their content, they just want to be credited.
Another important thing to note is what the email is asking you to do. The majority of scam emails will ask you to add a link underneath the image on your website and will claim that simply removing the image is not an option. A true takedown request would come in the form of a Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedown request, and require the image to be removed. It would also not ask for a link back, so if you’re being asked to include a link, it is not an official takedown request.
Know your images
If you are in the process of creating a website, we would recommend using stock images sites such as Pixabay to ensure you are free to use the image on your own website. Websites like these already credit the creator of the image, meaning you are free to use them on your own site. Websites such as Flickr can also be handy, but you should ensure you use the correct filters to avoid using an image not properly licensed.
What benefits do the scammers get?
Scammers use these emails for unethical SEO tactics through social engineering, trying to get backlinks to their own site. Google checks the number of inbound links from other sites as evidence for a website’s quality and trustworthiness. These are ‘backlinks’, and essentially mean the website is considered trustworthy by other sites. The aim of these scammers is to unfairly boost their site higher on Google without the cost or effort it usually requires.
Still not sure?
If you’re still unsure whether the email is authentic or not, you can always try the link. If the site looks unfinished, is badly worded or contains repetitive phrases, this could indicate a scam. You should also look for a phone number you can call. If something doesn’t feel quite right, trust your instincts.
If you’re still not sure, you can always get in touch with Make Us Visible. We’re more than happy to assist with any issues you face, whether it’s a problem with your website, social media or Google ads.
If you’re looking for digital marketing help, get in touch today! Our friendly team has all the experience, skills and knowledge to help make you visible online!