This week I got some unwanted e-mail that was more scam than spam. Masquerading as interest in my website and the story behind my “company,” someone from a broadcasting company contacted me wanting to do a story about me as Tech Savvy Mama. While my ego was thrilled, a ton of red flags when up when I got the first e-mail:.
“I would like to speak to you about a tv story we are doing on education”
That was it. No introduction of who the person was, information about the TV story, or a signature containing a full name, title, or contact information.
My curiosity got the best of me. I used the individual’s e-mail address to find the website of the company they worked for. The website was general but legitimate. It had addresses for offices in two different states, phone numbers, and e-mail addresses of people to contact for various requests. Despite this research, I was still curious about the cryptic one line e-mail. I proceeded to e-mail back, digging for information about the subject of the story and what they would like me to contribute.
The individual wrote back with a one sentence response:
“I need to know the story and history about the company to make a determination if it would fit into our program.”
After sending a brief bio containing maybe a sentence more than what you can find in the About Me section of my site, I got another response:
“Thank you. I have to set up a phone conversation with you. My job is to determine after speaking to you if your story will be a fit for our program”
Hmmmm….So after 2 rounds of e-mail I still didn’t know anything more about this person, their company, or their supposed TV story they wanted to do on me. Anyone from a legit broadcasting network wanting to do a story would have stated they were from NBC, CBS, ABC, CNN, etc. in the first e-mail. And when asked how they found out about my site (not that it is a secret), the answer was cryptic. Being curious, I still went ahead and set up a phone interview.
So today was the phone call. And now I can laugh because the red flags were waving but I just had to see what this was all about.
The TV story…Well, I would have had to pay a huge sum of money (I’m talking 5 digits!) for them to produce a story featuring me and my knowledge/expertise which would have aired 50 times on networks just a step up from my local cable channel. Think Wayne and Garth (Party on Wayne, Party on Garth!) with 5-7 minutes of air time. There was something about owning the license to my show. Tech Savvy Mama- media mogul? I think not! All for paying a 5 digit fee to this production company.
Why am I sharing this with you???
Because besides being tech savvy, it is always important to trust your instincts. My gut told me to be wary of this individual’s request and to proceed with caution. I protected myself in my e-mails and during my phone conversation by:
- Doing some research about the company prior to beginning e-mail correspondence and asked questions that would help legitimize the request
- Using my Tech Savvy Mama e-mail rather than my personal one
- Not divulging any more information about myself than you could find on my website or by Googling me (I swear Googling me will not turn up a treasure trove of stuff unless you are looking for what I did in my former professional life)
- Refraining from giving out my home phone number or saying exactly where I live
- Referring to my children by age and their aliases (Little Miss Techie and Captain Computer, of course!)
Maybe I’m making too big a deal about this but this was too great of a learning experience to not to share it with you!
P.S. My ego has recovered. Another e-mail arrived in my inbox shortly after my phone call with the “producer.” This time I was asked if I might be interested in guest blogging for a very legitimate news source’s blog. Hooray!
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Original post by Tech Savvy Mama