Monday, November 16, 2015

Strathmore Who's Who Scam

The Who's Who Scam is one of the oldest ones out there. The companies involved sell memberships in worthless directories that appeal to a person's vanity. You might get an offer to appear in "Who's Who in American Registered Nurses" or "Who's Who in Community Theater". Generally, the publication being pushed upon you will be reflective of your profession or hobby. The telemarketers involved usually start by cold calling you in order to verify your personal information which will be included in their directory and then sold to other telemarketers. Once your interview is completed, you'll be asked to make a payment in order to receive your certificate and a copy of the directory. The price tag for everything can be around $700. You'd think that nobody in their right mind would fall for a Who's Who scam, but, I'm told that the reps can be very convincing when they appeal to vanity and the need for making networking connections. Plus, the fact that a product and service are being offered and delivered makes the whole practice seem more legit. But, you should ask yourself how trustworthy and elite a Who's Who directory is that has such low criteria for inclusion. That's the metric of what makes a Who's Who publication a scam in my opinion.

The particular Who's Who scam that called me recently came to me courtesy of Strathmore World Wide. The caller ID entry that came up when Strathmore World Wide called was (516) 554-0111, which is a number that is not in service, so you can't call it back. That's a huge red flag. NEVER trust a call from a number that cannot be called back. Anyway, the Strathmore rep called looking for Charles Brown, owner of Brown and Brown Hair Salon. When she questioned me about the salon, I pretended to break down and cry, admitting that I had only said that I owned a salon so that I could feel like a big shot and get my name into the Strathmore Who’s Who for Executives and Professionals. When she asked if I had any executive qualifications at all, I told her that I had watched an entire season of "The Apprentice". The fact that the rep was so desperately reaching for some kind of qualification is, in my opinion, the big red flag that Strathmore Who's Who for Executives and Professionals is a blatant scam.

I'll allow for the possibility that there may be some reputable Who's Who publishers out there. If you to find yourself on the other end of a call from one of them, ask them the following questions before you give out any personal information:

  1. How was I selected? Was I nominated by someone specific or did I meet a certain criteria? If the rep answers broadly or is otherwise vague, you should be suspicious. 
  2. How many others made the cut? Too many voices in the crowd and you'll want to be suspect. 
  3. Who writes the bio? Most legitimate agencies will ask for background information and then write the bio for you. If you're asked to submit one yourself, it's most likely a vanity directory and not worth your money. 
  4. Are all entries the same size? The sure sign of a purely vanity directory is an upsell charge for a larger and/or more prominently featured biography. Most legitimate directories will even the playing field by having everyone have the same sized entry. 

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