Beware of Trick Emails: Phishing and Scams

The main purpose of this blog post is to alert you to two types of scam emails that I’m seeing a lot of these days, and that you may also be receiving.

These emails may come via your website contact form or by direct email; either way, please be careful and be on the lookout for these types of emails.

As the owner of a business website on the internet, you’ll almost certainly be the recipient of some phishing or scam emails that attempt to trick you into revealing sensitive data, passwords, or other private info about your website or business.

Learning to identify these emails is a critical skill that you’ll need to develop in order to avoid becoming a victim. You can find some general information about recognizing and avoiding phishing scams at the end of this article.

The Expiration/Renewal Trick

In this email, the sender seems to be warning you of the impending expiration of your domain name registration. They’ll say that the matter is URGENT and that you MUST ACT quickly.

But these emails are often written in plain text, with no company branding from any identifiably legitimate domain registrar. No name brand company would send such a plain looking email for legitimate purposes.

In this case, not only do they want your money, they want to steal your domain name. The sender is actually trying to trick you into transferring your domain to their service, thereby stealing your domain from you! That would give them control of your website and your emails!

If anything remotely like this arrives in your inbox, DO NOT click any links.

To double check about your domain registration status, it’s best to go directly to the business website of the company where your domain is registered (such as GoDaddy, Register, Namecheap, Network Solutions, etc.) and login or contact them to confirm.

The Copyrighted Images Scam

Another high pressure trick email accuses you of using some copyrighted images on your website. The writer is outraged that this has happened, threatens to sue you, and wants you to click a link to some supposed legal document.

Of course, copyright violations are a serious issue, and no one should ever use images on their website that do not belong to them (or that they have the rights to).

This email takes advantage of that fact, and is trying to trick you into downloading some malicious software via the links provided. So again, do not click any links in such an email.

If in doubt, check it out!

KPFdigital clients: If you receive any emails like these that you are not sure about, please forward to me for review.

More About Phishing and Scam Emails

Cybercriminals often use a range of techniques to trick you, and these emails often have predictable signs of being fake. The info below can help you learn to identify potentially dangerous emails and avoid falling victim to these scams.

Social Engineering Red Flags
View/download Social Engineering Red Flags (PDF)

What Is Phishing?

How to Recognize and Avoid Phishing Scams

Are You on the Dark Side or the Light Side?

How’s your monitor/screen calibration? Look at this image and observe the gradations between black and white in the diagrams. You should be able to see the subtle difference between A/B/C and X/Y/Z brightnesses in the chart.

If you can’t see the difference between the dark patches A, B, and C, then your screen’s calibration is shifted too far to the dark side and you won’t be able to see details in photos with deep shadows or overall dark appearance.

If you can’t see the difference between the light patches X, Y, and Z, then your screen’s calibration is shifted too far to the light side and you won’t be able to see details or faint colors in overall bright photos or graphics.

This is not related to what brightness level you have set on your phone or monitor, but concerns your screen’s ability to display or distinguish between very dark or very white image tones.

Most modern mobile phones have very good screens and should perform well. Desktop/laptop screen can often be adjusted; look to see if yours has any such adjustments.

A few more calibration images can be seen here.

Insta-Ken Pix

For the Insta-Ken website project, I became my own client!

As an artist, my Instagram collection is the living documentary of where I go and what I see. So I decided to make a gallery website and shop where visitors can view my work, and maybe purchase a print for their own art collection.

The website is clean and simple, letting the art take center stage. The shop is powered by a customized installation of WooCommerce, allowing buyers to purchase the artwork securely via credit card. Ordering information, policies, and print care information round out the great information provided to potential buyers.

The main goals of the website project were to make the gallery and sales process feel professional, trustworthy, and reliable.

Read the rest of this article »

Special Delivery: Putting Your Website to Work

At KPFdigital, we love to make websites that work — I mean, websites that actually do some work for you.

One important job a website can do for you is to save time. Save time by making it easy to log in and update. Save time by minimizing effort. And save time by automating some important manual work or tasks.

I’d like to share with you now, the story of a website I recently made that really does some work for its owner (and saves him lots of time!)

The Circus Fruits Weekly Specials

Circus Fruits is a fairly large open-air fresh fruits and vegetables market here in Brooklyn, NY. (They’re actually open 24/7/365!)

One of the most important things Circus Fruits does each week, on Wednesday mornings, is to publish their new weekly specials flyer. Customers eagerly look forward to seeing the new specials each week, before they come to the store to shop.

Read the rest of this article »

Why Your Entire Website Should Be Served Securely Over HTTPS

…and what is HTTPS anyway?!

HTTPS is an extra level of security for the people who visit and interact with your website. It creates an encrypted connection between your website and its visitors, and prevents the data going back and forth from being intercepted or manipulated.

Google: HTTPS Everywhere

Users expect a secure and private online experience when using a website.

Example of Secure Page connection

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The Website That Needed to Fax It In

A recent project of mine involved updating a very old website for a local fruit market here in Brooklyn. The existing website had been created in 1998 and was long overdue for a modern upgrade.

I wanted to bring all of the newest tools and features to the new website, and for the most part we did; it’s responsive, SEO optimized, and is easily self-manageable.

The new website also has a very slick system where the weekly specials automatically get posted to the website, Twitter, Facebook, and Mailchimp — all in one easy step. More about that slick system in an upcoming post.

But we also made a new Home Delivery page, where customers can place a delivery order by filling out a form on that page — a fairly common website feature, and not a hard thing to set up.

Just The Fax

However, my client had a very strange request for the Home Delivery form:

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Knock, Knock, WHOIS There?

Where is my Domain Registered?

Use the below KPFdigital WHOIS lookup tool to see where your domain is registered, and maybe even some additional info about the domain ownership.

Note that domain owner info is typically publicly available unless cloaked as part of your registration. However this tool may not display any ownership contact info here depending on the specific registrar.


Your Customers Don’t Care What Your Website Looks Like

These days it’s pretty easy to put together a fairly good looking website, but I’m here to break some bad news to you, Sunshine:

Your customers don’t care what your website looks like – they care what it works like.

You see, your potential customers didn’t set out to search the internet for a nice looking website. No, they went searching for a real company which they can trust to deliver the products or services they need or want today.

But the reality is that they can’t tell whether your company, products, or services are good or bad just by looking at your website’s design.

They must read your information, interact with your website, and develop a good level of trust before they consider spending their time or money on your products or services.

Does this company seem reputable? Is it a good fit for me? Is this really what I’m looking for? Can I trust them with my credit card? What’s the return policy? Can I call and ask questions? Are other customers happy with their experience?

These are the types of questions people really ask themselves when making the decision to do business with a company, and these are the things they will want to know from you. (Just like you ask yourself, when you search online for something.)

Read the rest of this article »

Simplified and Streamlined Customer Experience

Just launched a total redesign for AU Storage, Student Storage at American University in Washington DC.

This e-commerce website allows AU students to sign up and pay for their storage needs during off-periods from school such as over the summer or during study abroad semesters.

We simplified and streamlined the signup process, and implemented several layers of automatic follow up messaging to keep customers up to date. The goal is to increase sales, and save administrative time and effort for the AU Storage staff.


Project built and managed by Kenneth Feldman at KPFdigital.

Art direction by Michael Kroll at Sheep In Disguise.

Total Redesign for Book Publisher VENDOME PRESS

Just completed a total redesign for book publisher VENDOME PRESS.

Earlier in the year, we completely rebuilt the framework and backend of this website to make it easier for Vendome staff to manage and update their book catalog.

Now, in phase two, we’ve applied a new 2017 branding to the frontend of the website, while retaining all of the really neat stuff we built for the backend.

New brand look developed by fabulous design firm Charles and Thorn of Brooklyn, NY.