By: Andrea Wagner, President, Wagner Web Designs, Inc.

Examples of free email services are Yahoo!, Gmail, Hotmail,, etc. In the event of a problem with your account, there is NO support or customer service for free accounts. (The last line of the troubleshooting guide states “ If these steps have not resolved the issue, feel free to set up a new email account.”) Lost data is lost permanently, and there is no one to turn to for help.

Have you ever wondered how these companies are able to offer you a free email account? Once you sign up and begin sending and receiving email messages, you have become a target in the company’s sales and marketing sights, sharing your interests, your connections, your customers’ information, and even what your personal finances look like. Computer programs search and catalog every message you send, and every message you receive (no matter where the incoming messages originate), picking out words and phrases which are then used in targeted ad campaigns. You can see the result in the ads which appear on the side of the email screen, and are sometimes embedded within your email messages themselves.

Your Company Image – Using a free email service in place of your company domain name can raise a red flag to consumers, resulting in them deleting your email messages without reading them, or even reporting them as spam. This can stall your small business’ growth and hurt your reputation.

Another Domain Name Scam  – Many of my customers have been sending me this notice they receive via email.

“Dear Domain owner,

Don’t miss out on this offer which includes search engine submissions for…” It appears to be an invoice for renewing their domain name. But keep reading! “There is no obligation to pay for this order unless you complete your payment by xx/xx/xx. Our services provide submission and search engine ranking for domain owners. Failure to complete your search engine registration may result in the cancellation of this order (making it difficult for your customers to locate you using search engines on the web). You are under no obligation to pay the amount stated above unless you accept this offer.”

This is an advertisement made to look like an invoice. Many customers pay it out of fear of losing their domain. Just ignore. And finally, if you receive an invoice that you don’t expect from someone you don’t know, delete it!

Andrea is president of Wagner Web Designs, Inc, specializing in optimized small business websites. Have a question? Feel free to contact: (914) 245 2626.