I’m a day late and a bunch of dollars short, but I can’t complain of boredom. Anytime I think all is well, my life comes crashing down around my ears. Credit card fraud isn’t the worst thing that’s happened, but fraud is the only disaster I can forewarn others about. Who says secure payment systems are secure? They’re not, when every year, like clockwork, somebody somewhere tries to buy something with my credit card. Platinum? Not anymore. Tarnished again.
This year the criminals charged something from London, buying shoes. Last year they started with eBay electronics and moved on to diamonds. The first time, years ago, someone advertised phone sex jobs — I mean for people to man (or woman) one of those 900 number sex hotlines. I don’t end up holding the bag, and the criminals don’t get the goods, since my credit card company refuses the charges. They notify me and change my card numbers. They’re used to it by now. I’m on my 6th credit card.
Notifying all the companies I pay via automatic payment is a hassle, as is doing without the card until the replacement arrives. But it’s a lot better than being robbed in person. Then again, how many people get robbed in person year after year? Using PayPal doesn’t seem to help. That’ll teach me to leave home without my wallet. Wait, I did take my wallet. Did I say the card itself has never been stolen? And it still has a label on back instead of a signature, saying “ask for ID.” I praise the few merchants who do ask.
My sister doesn’t do any online banking. Her card number has never been stolen. But I like those great deals online. Now I have to ask, at what price in time lost? How much price in worry?
Fraud is everywhere. Yahoo’s groups get broken into; I get spammed. I have one email address I use for business transactions nowadays, expecting each company to put me on their perpetual mailing list, and sell my name to others. Do I believe them when they say they respect my privacy? No.
Fraud is just as prevalent in the publishing industry. Take a look at Predators and Editors: http://pred-ed.com/pubwarn.htm. The site gives all sorts of publishing warnings. The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) website provides this page: http://www.sfwa.org/for-authors/writer-beware/, proving it’s not just buyer beware; writers must also beware.
The most basic rule is that publishers shouldn’t charge upfront. Agents shouldn’t either. Those who belong to the Association of Authors’ Represenatives (ARS) abide by a code of ethics to protect innocent new writers, and not-so-innocent old ones. That’s not to say other agents don’t treat their clients fairly, but they’re not required to. Read that contract carefully, because there’s no organization to back a writer’s rights if the agent doesn’t belong to AAR. Their website, at http://aaronline.org/, provides a complete list of member agents.
So keep your eyes open long enough to read these websites. I’ve done my duty, giving fair warning. Maybe now I can get some shuteye.