Watch out for networking scams! As an author you want to promote your book through a variety of venues, including book signings, personal sales, an online presence or through networking.
These are good pursuits. The more you get yourself out there the better your chances of broadening your exposure. However, you also are subject to scams.
Recently, I received a letter saying, someone nominated me to become a member of a women’s professional networking organization. On the postcard, they listed their Web site for me to visit. I did that. It looked legit.
Since I am a member of the local chamber of commerce and they referred me to a reporter for an interview a month ago, I believed they could have passed on my name on this. I filled out the card, omitting my e-mail address. The card required my address, telephone number and perhaps my Web site but no other personal information. Thus I sent it in without worrying about relaying private information. If it did, I would not have completed it.
A couple of weeks rolled by and I never thought more about it until last week when I received a call from them. They asked me about the other professional organizations I belonged to and more about my business. I gave them the information and my e-mail address since they said the membership was selective on whom they would grant membership. I promoted myself, saying I was a member of such and such and my book, Seasons of the Soul, received Best of Year from www.Christianstoryteller.com and my short story, “The Silver Lining” (which is free to read on Smashwords) came in 10th on the 79th Writer’s Digest Writing Competition in the mainstream/literary short story category.
The caller stated they would love to focus me in their newsletter. I was thrilled at the extra exposure but then the woman hit with their membership dues – a stunning more than $600 for one type or $400 and something for their networking membership. “We need to place this on your credit card,” knowing earlier I selected the networking one.
Stunned, I composed myself. “That’s too much.”
“Well,” she continued, We have a $289 membership which would allow you such and such.
I replied, “I would have to ask my husband and would rather send a check. Could you send me the information?” I knew I would never submit the check.
“No, we need to confirm this through credit card. We have another membership for $189 which …”
“Again,” I reiterated, “I would have to ask my husband.”
Exasperated, she offered me their free newsletter. “Let me connect you with processing.”
I heard the click and stayed on the line. When after several seconds no one connected with me, I hung up the phone.
What a scam. Thank God I had the good sense to not give them my credit card number but how many others were vulnerable to this technique? I do not want to give the women’s organization’s name but it is located in Garden City, New York. Watch for them or other groups portraying themselves as one thing but really a front to reach into your pocket.
I’m more amazed at you than at the scammers. You don’t consider your home address and telephone number private information? But your website is? Color me boggled.
No, because telephone number and address is easily accessible through phone book and Web site is something you advertise for people to visit. People can Google all of these. However, other information is not readily available. My cell phone number was not listed.
That’s a definite appearance of the common Scammeritis Irritatingus. Always a problem any time of the year. They tend to migrate a lot this time of year….
Wow! Thanks for the warning on this!
I agree, home address and land line phone numbers are in the phone book. I never understand how people get so irate about this because most of the time all a person has to do is flip open the phone book or go to phone book site and there it is. in fact when i was growing up I never had and address book etc because when I needed to send my friends Christmas cards, etc I just looked them up.
That information is also easy to find on the Internet. I can look up someone’s name in the state they live in and find their address and phone number and (sometimes) their email. So we’re not as ‘private’ as we’d like to think. For a fee, they can even get a background check on you. That’s how one person discovered I got married, where and when.
An excellent reminder that scammers come in all shapes and sizes, and to network with a healthy dose of caution.
It might not have raised any red flags in this situation, but whenever I’m thinking of any type of commitment (whether joining a group or making a purchase) I always take a few minutes to do a web search on the product or group’s name along with the words “complaint,” “scam,” etc. It’s brought surprising results more than a few times.
What a good idea! I never thought to do that kind of web search before.
These scams are scary. They come off as seeming exclusive and legit, and that is what makes the author think they must be doing something right in order to get noticed. What a horrible thing to do to people. 😦
Thanks for sharing your experience with us. 🙂