Like most of you, I read about the dangers of online scams and hoaxes almost daily. We write about them too to warn our readers against them, especially as we have seen a sharp increase in online fraud in the past 12 months.
But it was still with shock and annoyance that I recently discovered that Yahoo Finance’s brand was being used to perpetrate one.
Last week, we were alerted through a Facebook community group that a number of “Top 10” businesses lists were circulating nationally and internationally which claim to be endorsed by and/or are in partnership with Yahoo Finance.
They are not.
Up until that moment, myself and my team had no knowledge these lists existed.
It seems people purporting to be from PR and marketing agencies are approaching the small business community to pay for placement on these lists which rank them among the top people in their field of work.
I want to be clear. Yahoo Finance has absolutely no part in these lists; they are not compiled by us, they are not promoted by us and they are using our brand without our permission.
They certainly have no editorial merit. Yahoo Finance does not and will never ask for payment for comment, nor for inclusion in any such list.
Naturally, we immediately launched an investigation into the source and were quickly shocked by how rife these lists are. Rest assured, we’ll continue digging into this issue and shedding light on the people perpetrating these misrepresentations.
In the meantime, here’s some information to make sure you know what to look for and avoid.
How does it work?
Small businesses and entrepreneurs are being targeted by 'marketing' agencies such as Authority Sharks or Boost Agency and offered a place on a “top 10 list” in their field for a fee of about $800.
The lists cover a variety of professions and are sold as: “Top 10 Female Relationship Coaches in Australia” or “Most influential entrepreneurs in 2020”.
These “agencies” then falsely claim to be in partnership with Yahoo Finance (and other reputable media). They upload the list to one of several legitimate newswire services, whose feeds come through to Yahoo as part of a global agreement (these feeds are important to update fast-moving finance news in real-time).
So while some of these Top 10 lists appear on Yahoo sites, these are actually in no way endorsed by us, and they have no editorial merit.
What we’re doing about it
Our global team is in urgent discussions with our newswire providers on how to deal with this issue, including blocking certain agencies that are the clear offenders.
And our global trademark team has been alerted about the unauthorised use of our brands.
We'll also put in place measures to monitor this content to try and take anything which comes through down as soon as it goes up.
It's not a simple fix, but we are committed to fighting the scammers.
How to protect yourself
If you're asked for payment to appear on any list – immediately exercise caution. Check who it is who is inviting you.
Always research any company that approaches you. Many won't have websites, and do a sense check on those that do, such as examples of their previous work, etc.
Ultimately, if you are being asked to pay for a placement on a list, you need to question whether that has real merit.
We at Yahoo Finance are on a mission to improve the wellbeing of our readers, and we’ll always prioritise the trust you put in us as an independent and authoritative source of information.
If you have received any such requests claiming to be from Yahoo Finance, please do contact me directly and send details so we can clarify and add the provider to a blacklist if appropriate.
Let’s stop this scourge together.