The information age makes its easier for artists to introduce, promote, and sell their paintings using the Internet. Artists can use the services of numerous online art galleries and social media networks to establish their art business. They can also set up their own art website or art blog as platforms for their online business. The Internet makes it easier for artists to do business but unfortunately, there are scammers who also take advantage of technology. As an artist, you must protect yourself and prevent becoming a victim of art scams.
Ways to protect yourself against fraud:
1. Be skeptical. If you receive an email or an offer that’s too good to be true, it probably is. Artists are vulnerable to these scams because they are hungry for fame, excited to make that first sale, and eager to make connections in the business. Signs to look for in a scam email: wrong grammar and spelling of words, urgency to buy, and the so-called buyer insists on arranging the shipment of the painting. Check out the Internet for the lists of email scams, including popular scammer names and email addresses.
2. Establish strict rules on accepting check payments and money orders. To protect yourself, never accept postdated checks, third-party checks, and checks where the amount is more than the agreed upon price for the artwork. Don’t accept overpayment wherein you have to refund the excess amount. For money orders, request the buyer to send payment from a trusted, domestic bank.
2. Make sure the payment is correct and has been cleared. Do not ship the painting unless the check or money order has been cleared in your bank. It takes three weeks or longer before a bank clears checks and if the check you’ve deposited turned to be a counterfeit, your bank may charge penalty fees on you.
3. Protect all online transactions. Use a trustworthy online payment service such as PayPal which protects both you and the buyer. If you’re buying art online, see if the web address starts with “https” or has a padlock symbol. These signs mean that the website where you are placing payment is secure and financial information such as your credit card number is encrypted when it is sent.
4. Be vigilant against computer viruses, trojans, malware,etc. Use the latest anti-virus and anti-spyware programs and keep them updated. If a virus attacks your computer, it can lead losing all your files, including the commercial photos of your paintings. Activate the firewall to prevent online criminals from accessing your computer and getting vital information on your art business.
5. Report scams. If you’ve been a victim of fraud, report it to your State Attorney General’s Office of Consumer Affairs. You can also file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.
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