AHA · Authors Helping Authors · Marketing · Publishing

Scams Targeting Authors – Are You Prepared for the Risks?

When the writing is done and it’s time to prepare your passion project for commercial distribution, it’s also time to fully enter the digital age. Becoming a published author means putting your brand name and contact information out on the world wide web for all to see. Obviously authors wish to attract buyers for their books, but that kind of exposure also comes with a very dangerous issue for neophytes to wade through—how not to fall victim to scam/phishing emails that all your new online activity will surely generate. You’ll be getting in front of new potential readers but also potential scammers. While creating ways for your fans to find and learn more about you, the scammers will be able to contact you just as easily as your fans. Public is public, good and bad. Be aware and prepared while establishing accounts and design your brand’s online presence safely and securely.

Be Security Smart – Aware and Prepared

  1. Consider what you are putting out on the world wide web when creating accounts. The business of selling your books should not reveal too much personal information.
  2. Separate personal and business by not using existing personal accounts for business purposes—create new accounts for business use only.
  3. Don’t publicize your real birthday or physical address. And this can be another good reason to create business social accounts rather than using your personal Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. so you can hit up family and friends. The personal history on those profiles could share more info than you should when exposed to the public at large. Your friends and family won’t mind following your new profiles.

Be aware and prepared when you set up your website, social media accounts, and email accounts because certain parts of online account registration become public information. You will receive emails, texts, or even phone calls from solicitors upon purchasing your first domain and/or launching your website, and many of them will not be legitimate.

In this article, we will focus on potential email scams to be aware of and the simple steps you can take to avoid downloading malicious software or accidentally signing over account login or bank account information. Email scammers have become sophisticated at masking their identities to get through spam filters. You won’t be able to eliminate all of their attempts to take advantage of you, but you will be able to avoid the pitfalls if you remember this basic business principle:

Act, NEVER React.

In other words, brush off the initial emotional reaction and focus on well-thought out business practices. An email saying your PayPal account has been compromised or your Amazon listing is not working right should not send you frantically clicking through that email. Slow down and look carefully so you can act responsibly.

Scam emails can appear to be coming from Amazon, Microsoft, PayPal, Dropbox, various banks, and more. They count on you reacting instead of acting to fool you into delivering what they were seeking—the keys to your kingdom.

Below is an example of a ‘phishing’ email where scammers try to sell a fake domain registration service. Notice how the email tries to create urgency by saying it’s the “final” attempt and appeals to the new website owner’s uncertainty about what they need for their new website. Also notice the sender’s email address is not associated with the business where you purchased your domain and how the “expiry date” is not in English. These are all red flags to watch out for.

Next is an example of an email supposedly from Amazon, but you can clearly see a strange email account that would not be associated with Amazon official business. It also plays on a recipient’s fear by claiming a purchase was made (which you wouldn’t have made) and advises the recipient to click a link to get to the “Help Page” for a “Full Refund.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tip #1 – The safest thing is to NEVER click anything in an email you are not certain is from a legitimate source, but instead go directly to the account being referenced by typing the URL into your browser. Companies always notify its users of account related issues within their account instead of sending emails.

Tip #2 – If the email is a forward from a friend or colleague, still NEVER click any link before contacting the sender to verify they actually sent it. Scammers hack email accounts to spread malware and phishing links from familiar email addresses, and your friend or colleague most likely won’t even realize it has happened.

Here are some red flags for fake business accounts being used for phishing:

  • Incorrect spelling or obvious grammar mistakes;
  • The ‘Sent from’ email address is clearly not associated with the business (@hotmail or @gmail instead of @paypal or @microsoft, or @paypa.edu instead of @paypal…watch, they are clever!)
  • When hovering your mouse over a link, anything other than a ‘clean link’ to the business’s website; A legitimate company website will be very straightforward while an illegitimate link might show the business name, but anything else is a red flag.
  • Email claiming your account has been put on hold or suspended or you will soon be affected if you don’t click the included link.

Don’t forget that these online scammers are very clever and getting more and more sophisticate right alongside the rest of the world, so even if the ‘sent from’ email address looks like it came from a business you use, do not use ‘in email’ links. Always go to the trusted business’s website by typing it into your browser before logging into your account. You can never be too safe in our ever-evolving world of interconnected technology.

We wish you a safe and prosperous journey into the publishing industry!

~~~> By Deja Lizer, Publishing Executive Assistant, and Debra L Hartmann, Publishing Consultant and Managing Editor, at http://iaps.rocks/

11 thoughts on “Scams Targeting Authors – Are You Prepared for the Risks?

  1. Excellent information, thank you.

    Another scam I fell victim to was a scammer who contacted me through the ‘Contact Me’ form on my blog. They said they had trouble locating my books on my blog and asked if I could point them in the right direction. Obviously, I responded to them, but in doing so, they then had my email address. Within hours, my email box became full of emails from so-called book reviewers saying that for a fee, they would leave a review for my books. The scammer had obviously added my email address to a list of authors which was in circulation. Needless to say, I marked each email as spam.

    Like

    1. Excellent example of how authors are targeted! Being an author really makes very public how best to scam us, so if we first look at whether a contact has ill intentions, rule that out before being excited about the interest, we’ll be able to avoid these situations more often. In your example, though, that would be a difficult one to spot, for sure. Thanks so much for sharing!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great article. I’ve received many scams and phishes, but the best? A few years ago (LOL, over 15) I received an email from an “agent” who gushed about how great my book was and she was hoping to represent me. At first, I was thrilled – an agent. Then I stopped to think – which book? I had three out there and each was a different genre. She didn’t give the title, just went on about how great it was. I did some research, looking for her name. Wise choice, indeed. First, she wasn’t cheap; expecting funds up front AND a commission. Secondly, she’d absconded with monies, faked her death, skipped the country, and was now back, starting new. Needless to say, I deleted her email without even considering a “thank you, no, thank you” response. Scammers are good at their jobs – always be wary.

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    1. Wow! Go you for not falling victim to that one! Unfortunately, this happens a LOT. And not just from individuals like in this example. Actually, self-publishing vanity presses use this strategy too. They disguise their marketing efforts within selling a promise that your dream has come true and you’ve been chosen for grandness. You did exactly what I meant by ACT, never react. Well done! Thanks so much for sharing!

      Like

  3. Reblogged this on Stevie Turner and commented:
    Thanks to Debra L. Hartmann for pointing out pitfalls which Indie authors may come across. I receive many phishing emails and calls for submissions to writing contests. These days I always email Victoria Strauss (beware@sfwa.org) before taking part in a writing competition that requires payment. Some of these competitions look genuine, but sadly they have no recognition as regards bona fide competitions, and are usually just wanting to profit from self-published authors. Victoria always responds with the real deal.

    Like

    1. Thank you for sharing this example! That is unfortunately a very common one most authors will encounter. It’s shameful how they play on our hopes and dreams, but anybody who can control time and space with a pen, which is what authors do, can outsmart them. Just act, never react. Think about the business of it first, then celebrate after you’re sure you’ve found a solid business investment.

      Liked by 1 person

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