To better protect yourself from getting scammed here is a simple rule book to follow when hiring a website design firm. or somebody who will be in charge of your website.
Don't Sign any Contract without reading them fully
Be prepared to walk away. Dont get money locked. Dont spend a dime before you sign a contract and dont sign a contract before you read every last word. This honestly is logical advice. Not coming from a state of law or a lawyer just think common sense. There is many times you find that a contract is anything but logical.
Most times the contract is written to hold harmless your wanted new company. or hold them without responsibility while forcing you to foot the bill. So good golden rule is "If its not written by you, Its not in your interest" So read it!
Own the DOMAIN and the CONTENT
The domain. The big www.com you want for your company! You must own it outright. DO NOT LET them get this for you. I know it might feel complicated but goto godaddy or enom and buy the site yourself. Most times you only need the bare base minimum!
If you have no idea what you are doing hire a contracted IT guy to help you make sense of it. Via 3rd party! This gives you the right and the ability to leave un molested.
Second! Demand the ability for RAW FTP/SFTP/SSH/SQL Access to your files. Many times they will only give you access to a Web portal. Giving you "Full Control" over your content. However with this as the only way to access the information they can lock you out of that portal. And your content will be gone to your access.
Now granted even if you have raw access to the assets. You also need to realize they can lock you out of those portals too. Granting the reason you want this raw access is for backup before the blunder. If you have a 3rd party keeping a backup of your files and your database on hand and off site from this firm you wish to hire. IF by chance anything goes wrong. You have a timestamp you can revert back to quickly elsewhere.
SAAS Locks you in
Many companies look to offering software as a service. SAAS to be short. This means they will lock you into their services no matter how you see it. You join their world and operate the way they tell you. If you don't agree you risk all your information and data to be lost to them at their terms. If ever possible Hire a 3rd party to help you find affordable hosting and get things setup for them.
While it may look nice for the Marketing/Design team to have full control to maintain this. Mind you that if you choose them and you get into any spat. Even if its a billing issue or a scuff with an employee. They can shut you down with no power to you.
Check for an In house Lawyer.
If the firm you are working with has an in house lawyer on staff. Be mindful as to why that is the case. This company makes websites... Why do they need to staff a 40hr a week Lawyer for any other reason other then to defend?
Not all firms have this as a bad case. Look into the reasons why that lawyer exists. Some help draft proper and specific terms of service. Some negate the legal sector of a specialty site. But the majority of the time they are placed there to defend.
Search for sucks.
The Biggest search term out there to find the other side of the fence is by searching for your company or product and add the word sucks after it. Most times when people describe distaste or anger they use the word "Sucks" in some PC format or another. This will help you get a grip on seeing what is in the closet of the comany regardless of how much they invest in hiding it.
Many companies that have bad back lash will create another shell entity to hide or flood the cause using the same terms. So be careful what you read. Look for presentable relations such as specific situations or actual dollar amounts. Relate able impacts. As well be mindful of the names posted. Search those names! Most honest people have at least 1 entity that can be cross referenced from a username or an email address.