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How To Protect Yourself From Voice Over
Scammers: 6 Red Flags & Research Tips

February 24, 2016

By Dave Courvoisier

Voice Actor & TV News Anchor

It's pretty easy to spot those incoming scams from "Nigerian Princes." But here, I'm talking about predatory coaches and weekend demo mills, too.

Fraud and trust-betrayals are endemic to the modern world.  Gone are the days of leaving your front door unlocked, letting your kids play down the street until sunset, and taking somebody's word at face value.

The Internet makes this worse by providing a facade for the fraudsters to hide behind, but it gives equal power to us as individuals in doing our due diligence.

In the TV newsroom, I sit right next to our Consumer Reporter ... who (God bless her) patiently takes calls all day, every day from people who are on the losing end of the latest scam. 

It behooves me to repeat her endless mantra in response to many of those callers:
  • get it in writing
  • read the fine print
  • don't wire money to anyone you don't know
  • don't pay anyone with a Green dot card
  • The IRS doesn't call saying you owe money
  • never give out personal info to people on the phone you don't know
  • hang up on rude or profane callers
  • ...the list goes on and on. 

But the latest generation of Internet phishing and email scams are much more sophisticated and creative. Some border on legitimacy, therefore giving you pause. 

Others ARE legitimate, but prey on your naiveté and eagerness to take advantage of you.

So herewith are five red flags to watch for, to protect yourself from VO scammers.

1. Beware of pitches that are too long, too short, too slick, or too rudimentary. 

That's pretty much the spectrum, so the key is to check on the efficacy of their claims. If they are who they say they are, then you should be able to find ample traces of their reputation online, either in references or work history.

Unusual wording or syntax is a giveaway. This is why captcha codes got popular. Prove you're not a robot. As a living, breathing, thinking, rational human being working in the modern world, you can usually smell a rat if you give it any cautionary thought at all. 

2. Is the wording off? 

Perhaps an article (a, an, the, etc.) is missing, a verb is conjugated incorrectly, or some casual references are just goofy (like a scammy letter referencing bringing your mom, dad, friend, bodyguard to a voice over session).

3. Vague is bad.

Legitimate concerns are only too happy to offer hard details, provide references, extrapolate lesson plans, give course structure, delineate processes, and offer explanations almost to the point of giving away their secrets. 

4. What does it cost, and what exactly are you getting for those dollars? 

Those are legitimate questions, and you deserve clear answers. Guard against big, colorful fonts, repetitive phrasing, lots of exclamation points, and unsubstantiated promises. 

Simple, brief, attributable, linkable, verifiable pitches are best:
  • Succinct.
  • Declarative without being boastful.
  • Factual without lots of hyperbole, and clear without evasive or diversionary language.
5. Google/Social Media is your friend. 

15 minutes spent in online research will probably tell you all you need to know about your target. If the Google search is still unconvincing, start looking on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn for answers.

These platforms are fallible, but you'll start seeing patterns, or the preponderance of info will be a good indicator one way or the other. 

6. Call on trusted friends, mentors, coaches, community leaders or known experts in the field to give you a word of guidance. 

Sheesh .. .voice over people are so helpful; take their collective wisdom!

Honorable mention: Still undecided? Call 'em! 

No phone number? Hmmm, that's a problem and a fair indicator they're not too customer friendly. 

They do have a phone number? Great!  Get a human on the other end of the line, and pleasantly demand plain answers to simple questions.  Most people can tell when they're being talked down to or taken for granted.

I'd say "... just use common sense..." but 30 years of dealing with TV viewers has made me jaded. I'm convinced that 80% of people out there don't HAVE common sense anymore. 

Thank goodness all voice actors are in the remaining 20%!
Dave Courvoisier is an Emmy Award-winning broadcaster, writer, producer, voice actor, and the main weeknight news anchor on KLAS-TV, Channel 8, the Las Vegas CBS affiliate. He also writes Voice-Acting in Vegas, a daily blog of voice over adventures, observations and technology, and is author and publisher of the book, More Than Just A Voice: The Real Secret To VoiceOver Success.

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Comments (3)
j. valentino
2/24/2016 at 3:04 PM
The author sounds a bit paranoid. A lot of awkward phrasing in this article. Just try to use plain common sense and your inner gut as a barometer, and you'll avoid a great deal of scams in life. VO people are people. they are not in need of special lessons on how to avoid scams.
Paul Payton
2/24/2016 at 11:56 AM
Excellent article, Dave. Another couple of "tells": if an e-mail starts with "Dear Customer" as opposed to "Dear Your-name," it's bogus. Amex, Verizon, the IRS, etc., won't address you anonymously. Also: if the e-mail address looks "funny," it's probably not legit and not funny at all. Finally, if they want money and you can't tell what it's for - or the amounts are "off" - the offer is probably bogus, whether for a VO thing or something else.

In my experience, if I can't check the legitimacy of something, it's better to do nothing than do the wrong thing.

Hope that productively adds to the conversation.
Jim Conlan
2/24/2016 at 7:34 AM
Dave, you'd think that scamming voice-over artists would be a low-yield opportunity, but it is happening. I got one a week ago with that same mom-dad-bodyguard language. The best way I know of to validate any offer is simply to refer them to my agent - another good reason for having one. Thanks for this timely article.
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