The unusual times we’re experiencing have brought unexpected gifts and unexpected challenges. Recently, we learned of one of those challenges: a scam that apparently exploits the increasing prevalence of direct booking and the good name of reputable salons to scam individuals out of a fraudulent ‘deposit’. Unfortunately, scamming is not new to many of us. Whether it be telephone scams, random numbers asking to track a mailed package, fake charities, or early access to the COVID-19 vaccine, scammers are clever and willing to go to all lengths to take advantage of innocent people.
Believe it or not, this scam happened to someone who thought they were booking with us! The victim of the scam (who became our client in the end), was kind enough to share the details with us so we could help protect you. We will refer to her here as the victim since she was not a Phia client at the time of the scam.
Here’s how the scam works:
A scammer ‘stylist’ connects with the victim via Facebook (in this scenario, the victim had posted on a Facebook community group asking for stylist recommendations).
A brief messaging consultation ensues.
The scammer ‘stylist’ requests a small deposit. The amount is small enough that the victim doesn’t think twice.
The victim receives what appears to be a legitimate confirmation with the name and address of a reputable salon.
The victim arrives at the salon with no appointment booked and out $35.
So, how can you tell the difference between a scam appointment and an appointment with a real salon?
Here are 4 ways to protect yourself:
- See if your salon’s website lists their stylists. If it does, cross-check these names with the person messaging you – spelling included! A name match doesn’t ensure safety, but it is a piece of the puzzle. In this situation, the difference between our Jazmen and the scammer ‘stylist’ “Jasmine” would have thrown up a red flag.
- If the website lists pricing for services, cross-check that with the estimate you were given. Our Jazmen’s long cuts start at $82, this stylist quoted $65.
- Cross-reference the policies the ‘stylist’ mentioned with what is on the website! In this example, the ‘stylist’ told the victim that it was okay to arrive ten minutes early, but our website requests clients not to arrive before their appointment to minimize traffic in the salon!
- Again, the safest thing to do to reach out to the salon directly to confirm your appointment.
Another great way to be sure you are booking with Phia directly is to book through our website! This process is quick, efficient, and easy, and does not require messaging.
And soon, we’ll have the client-side of our Philinq app complete and you’ll be able to download that app for secure, safe communication with your stylist.
This particular story has a happy ending! Phia was able to forge a new relationship with the victim and she is now a client! She is still out $35 from the scam, but her generosity in providing details and screenshots will hopefully help prevent you from being victimized in the future.
If this is happening here, it is likely happening everywhere!
Make sure to take equal precaution with any salon bookings moving forward.
Please share this information so other people do not fall victim to this.