"I got a telephone call and the very professional lady said they could get my business onto the first page of Google for £--- a month"
This sometimes gets dressed up as SEO (search engine optimisation) so that they can charge more, but the result is the same. The company will find out what business you are in and then use Google Adwords to buy a handful of keywords related to your business & a link to your website.
You could do this yourself very cheaply, but more to the point it is an unfocused scattergun approach that is almost always a waste of money.
"I received a letter saying that my domain name was about to expire and an invoice with how to pay and renew it."
This is a clever one because most people do not realise that much domain owner information is publicly available. As such,automating a system to send out these letters is relatively easy. Most domains cost a few pounds a year, but these scammers charge £70 + for a years renewal so the profit is huge.
Many hosting companies, such as 1and1, auto renew your domain to avoid accidentally losing it and in such a case you would effectively pay twice.
Just tear the letters up (or ignore their email).
Regrettably, many companies prey on the naivety of small businesses every day. In general, these type of companies are 99% telesales staff and have absolutely no interest in providing a real service of any value. Many are simply scammers.
Generally speaking, do not engage business services purely as a result of a cold call. Do your homework first. If they are legitimate and offer a great service, they won't mind.
"An SEO company cold called and said they were working with Google and could get me on the first page of Google search results"
Often cleverly worded, these telesales companies intimate a relationship with Google but be assured that no such relationship exists. Google doesn't work with other companies in this way. Just put the phone down!
"I have received an email from a Chinese hosting company warning me that they have had an application from a Chinese company to buy my domain name, and offering me 'first refusal' to protect my domain in the far east."
Another clever scam because to the layman it seems quite feasible - everyone has heard of Chinese companies copying or ignoring copyright etc, haven't they? The scammers helpfully suggest that you buy all Chinese permutations of your domain name too, so that you are 'fully protected'. I have seen such scammers demanding thousands of pounds for this service.
Fact is, only Chinese companies can buy Chinese domains, and in simple terms, they cannot buy your domain name if you already have it registered. Ignore!
"Cancellation means we have a slot in the Sunday Times / Guardian etc etc which we can offer you for just £--- "
Not a scam, simply a way of selling advertising spaces in newspapers.
Point 1 - In 10 years I have never known 'opportunity' marketing such as this produce any meaningful result at all. Ever.
Point 2 - If you really want to give 'old media' a try don't do it on a whim. Plan it and then negotiate like hell over the price - newspapers are desperate to sell space!
scams and tricks