Scams are becoming increasingly common. Whether this is via social media, dialling a random phone number, through email or even in person, scams are everywhere. Unfortunately, even the event hire industry is also subject to incidences of scamming.
If you are responsible for planning an event the last thing you need is an unscrupulous scammer leaving you in the lurch. Loss of funds, non-existent equipment or dodgy hiring that is nothing like what was agreed upon can all serve to derail your event.
So what steps can you take to avoid being scammed while planning your event? How can you identify a legitimate equipment hire company over one that shouldn’t be trusted? Is it easy to recognise a scam?
In this guide, we’ll answer all your questions and provide tips for how to avoid being scammed.
The Goal Of Scammers
If you’ve never had experience with scammers, you’ve been incredibly lucky. Scammers are not discerning in who they target and anyone is fair game. Their only goal is to take advantage and gain financially by tricking trusting victims.
The most common scams involve trying to obtain an individual’s personal information such as bank account or credit card details to they can initiate a theft.
Scammers create a range of plausible reasons for needing this information, often posing as a trusted family member or business.
Types Of Scams
Thinking that you’d never be able to be sucked into a scammers game? Scammers are becoming increasingly sophisticated, as a result, even the most vigilant among us are at risk of being caught out.
There are several types of scams, some of which are used within the equipment hire industry as a means of deceiving genuine customers. These include:
- Imitating a legitimate business and offering goods and services for pre-payment and then never delivering on the promise
- Gift card scams where scammers pose as a company and request payment by gift cards as these cannot be traced
- Intercepting funds that clients are sending to online accounts. This is done by scammers hacking company email accounts and providing incorrect account details.
- Identity theft whereby scammers pose as an individual in order to steal their financial information. Often draining funds or directing new credit and debit cards to their address.
- Sending bogus invoices to random email addresses and threatening legal action or other frightening outcomes if they remain unpaid.
Some of these scamming activities can seem incredibly believable. So how can you protect yourself?
Avoiding Scams In The Equipment Hire & Event Planning Industry
Thankfully, there are several steps you can take to protect yourself from scammers while planning your event hire. Here are our top tips on what to be on the lookout for.
Research Vendors Thoroughly
Always do your research. Sure that hire company you saw advertised on Facebook looks legitimate, but you should never engage with a vendor without doing the proper checks.
First step – Google them, genuine businesses will usually have a Google business listing and this takes proper verification to achieve.
Likewise, look for reviews, whether via Google or on another platform, you should try to find real reviews from past customers. Reviews with photos of events they have facilitated are even better.
Should you see numerous comments about being unreliable, unexpected costs being added or similar, it’s time to find an alternative vendor.
Negotiate Rates & Contracts Carefully
Even a legitimate business can engage in scamming behaviour and one of the most common ways this is implemented is by the adding of bogus additional expenses.
Before signing on with a vendor you should spend proper time negotiating rates. All costs should be detailed in signed, legally binding contracts that you read thoroughly. This stops vendors from adding to your bill and avoids hidden fees.
Verify Equipment Quality & Safety
Before your event and before parting with any funds, we recommend arranging a time to inspect the equipment you intend to hire. This not only confirms that it does indeed exist, but it also allows you to verify that the equipment is fit for purpose.
Equipment should be in clean, working order with all relevant safety checks up to date. Of course, between the inspection and the event, anything could happen. However, this demonstrates to the vendor that you have clear expectations regarding the hire and what they should be delivered.
If a vendor declines to let you see what you are hiring, this is a potential red flag and you should proceed with caution.
Ask for References & Certifications
Before entering an agreement it is acceptable to request references from the vendor.
Many will happily provide you with testimonials and may even be able to provide you with phone numbers of past clients they have worked with for verification.
If certifications are required, such as proof of licensing for machinery used in delivery and set up, this should also be willingly provided. Some event spaces may require you to show that third parties entering their premises have a verified business licensed and are insured.
Review Cancellation Policies
The inclusion of a cancellation policy is not usually cause for alarm and is something most of us would expect. However, always read the fine print and make sure you are across all relevant dates for cancellation and how this impacts cancellation fees.
Be sure there are no hidden extra fees or liabilities you are agreeing to when you sign on the dotted line.
Discuss Insurance Coverage
It is so important to have insurance coverage for event hire. You should always enquire about whether the equipment is insured and what your role and responsibilities are concerning damage or loss.
Most equipment hire companies will have insurance in place and will factor this into your hire charges. If you are being asked to pay for additional insurance ask what this covers and be sure you are across all the details.
Ensure Secure Payment Methods
A legitimate hiring company will ensure they have a safe and secure payment method available to you. This could be a direct bank transfer to their business account or options to pay via credit card.
If you are asked to pay by wire transfer, to an international bank account, using a gift card or similar you’re dealing with a scammer and should quickly cut contact.
Watch Points For Event Hire
Even if you have done all the relevant checks, you could still be scammed! A vendor could be perfectly legitimate and then a scammer inserts themselves into your dealings with them. This has the potential to make victims of both you and the vendor.
Here’s how to spot the signs of a scam and avoid them.
Phishing Scam: Call Or Email
Scammers often catch victims by posing as a company they have previously had dealings with. This could look like your vendor emailing or texting you to request payment, on the face of it nothing seems amiss and if you do have a payment owing, it seems very legitimate.
- Always check the sender details carefully as scammers will mirror a business but include slight differences in spelling or similar.
- Look for style changes, does the email read like previous communications?
- Be careful of links in emails or texts as these can be malicious and redirect you to a site that will steal your details or infect your device with malware.
- There’s an unusual sense of urgency that is not expected.
If in doubt, always call your vendor to double check if it was, in fact, them that sent the email.
Online Ordering Scam
So much of our lives can be managed online and ordering event equipment hire is no different. If your chosen vendor allows you to browse their hire catalogue online as well as book and deposit, it’s important to stay vigilant.
Scammers can masquerade as legitimate businesses or insert false links within websites as a means of stealing payment details. Always double check the web address is prefaced with HTTPS (not HTTP) and look for the padlock icon that indicates a secure connection.
Pay attention to how they’re asking you to pay too. Paypal or credit cards are secured and protected. If a site is requesting payment via wire transfer or money order – alarm bells should be ringing for you!
Social media algorithms are designed to target people based on their recent search histories. While this can indeed be helpful, this also makes it easier for scammers to find appropriate targets.
If you have been researching event hire and suddenly there’s a pop-up advert for an amazing hire offer of course you’re inclined to check it out. While some of these could very well be legitimate, it’s important to check the details.
- Do the hire costs and conditions seem too good to be true?
- Can you see any evidence of genuine business operations such as customer reviews on Google or a genuine phone number?
- Are they asking for upfront payment by money order or wire transfer?
- Are there several additional costs hidden in the terms and conditions?
If there are no reasonable answers or explanations for the above, this could indicate a scam.
If you have been the victim of a scammer or an attempt has been made to scam you, you can report this to ScamWatch. Operated by the Australia Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) ScamWatch helps track scamming activity and inform law enforcement about current scams.
The ACCC cannot track a scammer or pursue the return of your funds but can direct you to those who can. This includes speaking to the police and your financial institution.
What Genuine Hirers Look Like
The goal of this guide is not to scare you but to help you avoid unscrupulous business people and their scams. Thankfully, there are so many great event-hire companies out there that will do whatever they can to help you achieve a fantastic outcome.
A great vendor will:
- Show enthusiasm for your event and ask detailed questions aimed at pinpointing exactly what you need
- Make suggestions of appropriate equipment that suits your requirements and budget
- Have no issue in providing proof of available equipment, past customer feedback or information on licensing, certifications and insurance
- Never suddenly request payment unless required in the contract conditions
- Never threaten you. They will engage respectfully and with professionalism at all times.
- Detail all costs and give you proper time to read contracts and negotiate conditions
- Never ask you to pay by unsecured methods, this includes asking for your credit card details over the phone
- Have proper security in place to protect you from scammers, such as a secure website and email account
- Never ask for personal information unrelated to the hire
- Provide a dedicated contact number for the duration of the hire
Excel Hire – Trusted Experts
At Excel Hire, we recognise that our success in the equipment hire industry relies on the delivery of exceptional service and reliability. We are sadly very aware that scammers exist within our industry and work hard to ensure our clients are protected from this dark side of event hire.
We work closely with all our clients to ensure they are completely at ease with their hire and willingly arrange equipment inspections and the provision of customer feedback. We welcome all questions and take steps to ensure you are happy with every part of your dealings with us.
Our business is fully insured and our staff are licensed and certified wherever necessary. We are committed to delivering a safe, seamless and stress-free hire no matter the size of your event or available budget.
To further protect you all our payments are handled via a secured platform and proper security measures are in place to protect all digital communication.
Work with a trusted team that has decades of experience in the equipment hire industry. Contact Excel Equipment hire today at 07 3217 3217.