Don’t take the hook, line and sinker – sneaky email about an “Incomplete SAM.gov registration” has been spotted in inboxes across the country:
Have you recently received an email starting with “Subject: SAM Expiration – [YOUR NAME] Call 888.299.8266?” Then, the email starts to draw you in with, “[Your Name], we would like to speak with you regarding the SAM Renewal for Company ABC with CAGE code xxxxxx set to expire on 6/3/2014. FBA’s Quick Start Program is designed to get Atmospheric & Space Technology Research Associates’s registration renewed, make sure it stands out above your competition, can easily be found, and makes a great impression in order to effectively compete for Contracting and Grant opportunities.“
Let me guess – the answer is YES.
Well, hopefully you’ve already figured out that this is spam/phishing by the “FBA”, which really stands for FedBiz Access - A PRIVATE LLC – NOT A GOVERNMENT ENTITY. This is simply a company trying to lure you into thinking you need their services to get found by government purchasing entities (which is not guaranteed by the way).
There have been several complaints filed with the BBB over the past few years – a simple Google search of “FedBiz Access complaints” will turn up some interesting results. I’ll let you decide on the legitimacy of the company; meanwhile, I’ll review their email for accuracy:
The following statement is nearly completely false, and a key hint about the fact that this is spam: “Did you know that a high percentage of companies in SAM have errors which can negatively impact their success? Most SAM profiles do not have a Capabilities Narrative, Effective Keywords, Qualified References, and other Critical Information. We can help…” Then, they follow with a quote from a person at the GA Tech PTAC which makes their previous statement seem qualified. The quote from PTAC will most likely be true, but the statement above that the company places before the quote it is not entirely accurate.
Now that they’ve reeled you in, let’s debug their “hook” part if the email so that you don’t swallow the “sinker”:
1. Errors in SAM are not sent to you by some random email from some random company. The email will come from an official account and won’t have “we can help…” at the end. If you have an error, you will know it. If you’re not sure, just go to http://www.SAM.gov and click on “Search Records” to look up your company.
2. Qualified references??? There isn’t even a spot for this information. There IS a place to put in contact information. Just remember that this information is public – if you only want to put a phone number here, you may (so you can lessen the spam of which we are currently discussing).
3. Effective keywords? What is this – the federal government now uses SEO to search for companies??? No, not here. Just make sure you “describe” your business with the right NAICS codes. For a list of NAICS codes, go to: http://www.census.gov/eos/www/naics/
4. SAM.gov is simply a place to register your business so that the government knows it’s legit and to record any exceptions (think flaws on a company record). If they are searching for your services, you can bet this is NOT the place they will find you.
SAM.gov cannot be enhanced in any way. In one, short and sweet sentence here is what SAM.gov IS:
SAM.gov is company info that is certified.
So, why is this company asking all this information and scaring small business owners into calling them? Because they are hanging on to that tiny hope that you, the small business owner, is so wrapped up in day-to-day dealings, that they can play off of that always lingering thought in the back of your head that you’ve either missed something important, or that the government space is so confusing that you just can’t help but maybe believe them and let them handle things.
Okay, so if I’m not being “found” by government agencies via SAM.gov, then how can I become more visible?
First of all, we should mention that having a SAM.gov registration is required to sell to the government. Your company should have a registration, but if not, watch this video (put together by the SAM.gov web people) prior to getting started so that you have all of the information you need in place: Register a New Entity in SAM to be Eligible for Government Contracts.
Once registration is complete, BE PATIENT! “Allow up to 10 business days after you submit your registration for it to become active in SAM and an additional 24 hours before that registration information is available in other government systems. You will receive a confirmation email once the registration is activated. ” Source: SAM.gov
Next, what types of agencies buy your goods/services? Agencies have small business websites where you can register your company as a vendor to allow your capabilities to become searchable by an agency purchaser. For example, NASA has one called the Office of Small Business Programs where you can learn all about doing business with NASA, and where you can register your company as a small business vendor. Here’s a quick list of a few others – *NOTE: this list is not by any means complete – just a quick FYI as examples*
So, you’re now a savvy email scanner and can identify these ploys, right? Also, know that if the government ever wants to get a hold of you, they will. No one will ask for detailed information that is not already public knowledge via an email. ALWAYS check the email address from which a letter is coming. The .gov extension is limited to government entities. Beware of emails telling you about missing info. without a “.gov”address. Dun & Bradstreet have also had some scammers pose as them and they will
email spam you (if they haven’t already). The best way to validate an email is with a quick phone call. These spammers rely on you NOT calling to verify, so calling is a great way to say “gotcha!”
The one take-away to learn today? Always validate the source!