Friday, April 10, 2015

Reader Beware

Every once in a while I google one or other of my books, and almost always find them listed on a pirate site. Oh, the joys of authorship. I won't even go there, but this whole new (to me) racket I've stumbled upon is worth sharing.

I found my not yet released book listed on two seemingly different sites—free on other, for money on the other. The second one even looked pretty professional, complete with reviews pulled straight from Goodreads.

The takedown notice email sent to the first site came back as undeliverable. No big surprise. Now, here comes the interesting part: when clicking on the download button at each, I was sent to the exact same login page. To create an account all I had to do was enter my email address and my credit card umber.

Needless to say, my internal klaxons broke into a howl at that very moment. After further poking I discovered the following facts: There are various sites out there—I have no idea how many—offering everything from movie streaming to books magazines, comics. They look different, have unique urls, but they all lead to the same site where you need to create an account by providing a credit card number right upfront.

Yes, dear reader, you guessed it right: this is a scam.  But not a garden variety one, because if they simply stole your numbers they'd be shut down pretty fast. The cleverly nefarious part of this operation is that they simply start charging monthly fees to your card, whether you use their services or not. Apparently, their "free" trial period last five days and they charge you if you try to cancel. (I've learned this from complaints of unhappy customers.)

And it's probably perfectly legal. I wasn't stupid enough to go far enough in the process to encounter it, but I bet there is at one point a term of service they make you agree to. And who reads those? (I'm fairly certain I've promised my firstborn to Apple during one those iTunes upgrades.)

So here comes the warning: DO NOT GIVE YOUR CREDIT CARD INFO to anyone, any site even mildly suspicious. There's zero fucking reason why they should have it for membership. And go to reputable retailers to buy books. Unless, you were hoping to pirate those books. In which case, please go ahead and sign-up.

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