Ten Easy Steps to Check for Suspicious Events
In a continued effort to help keep TakingITGlobal members safe online, this guide was created in response to a growing number of fake events that are appearing on the internet. Sometimes, members are contacted via TIG IM or via email by people who claim to be TIG members or TIG staff. All events run by TakingITGlobal are posted in the events calandar and are shown as being hosted by TakingITGlobal.
This guide applies to large events both national and international. Some steps such as step 4 may not be applicable to smaller local events.
1. No detailed contact information
The host organization should always have their full mailing address (NO PO Box) and telephone number provided.
2. Incorrect address or telephone information
Sometimes, a fake event will provide false address information. Check this quickly using Google Maps to see if the address exists. Also check for the correct address format. For example, all postal codes in Canada follow this format: M5R 2H3 letter and number alternating. All US zip codes are 5 numbers, with no letters - such as 90210, or a longer format displayed with four digits at the end - such as 90210-1504.
3. No website or website of extremely poor quality
Most often, suspicious events will not have their own website. If they do, they are often of very poor quality. Any international event will have a well built website that is accessible at all times and has its own domain name such as www.wyc2008.qc.ca. Fake events may also use free hosting services that could make their website address appear as follows http://international-event.geocities.com or www.geocities.com/international-event.
4. An email address from a free provider
Suspicious events often ask participants to email them for more information but these are to free email providers such as Yahoo! or Hotmail. If the conference is large or international, it is unlikely that those associated with the conference will use a free email provider address.
5. Fake charity or company
Fake conferences frequently use real company or charity names to seem legitimate. For Canada, the UK and the USA, you can lookup the charity's real address and contact information using a government charity search engine.
For Canada, go here.
For the United States, go here.
For the United Kingdom, go here.
6. Being directly contacted
If you were contacted to be involved in a conference when there is no clear reason as to why you were emailed, you should treat the event as suspicious.
7. If the event includes free travel, accommodation and per diems
If free travel or accommodation is offered, especially to all delegates, the event is almost certainly fraudulent. These programs (if available) are always limited in supply, and always include a formal application process.
8. If the event email or website asks for money or personal information
If contacted directly and the email asks you for money or personal information such as passport numbers right away without you asking to participate, the event is usually fraudlent. Be especially wary when you had not previously indicated interest to participate.
9. Real events will never request a processing fee or visa fee
If a person contacts you and requests any sort of application processing fee or visa fee the event should be treated as suspicious. Most charges related to visa costs would be covered by the participant and would be paid directly to either your local embassy or consulate or to immigration once you arrive in the host country. Major events never request application processing fees.
10. A final check!
As a last resort, call the organizers or email them and ask specific information about the event. You should be confident at this point that the event is real.
Right now, one popular scam to be aware of is when organizers say that their event is being held in two different countries. Major events are rarely held in two different countries, especially directly after each other. Also, events that have occurred in the past are likely more reputable than '1st annual' events.
As a last resort, please contact us! We are more than happy to assist you if you are not confident about an event after going through this list.