Email Scams and tips to avoid them.

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Scams are everywhere.  We deal with them in a myriad of ways on a daily basis.  The internet and our email accounts are full of them.  Running a business seems to open us up to additional hits that are often easily confused with customer requests, sales inquiries.  This week, we received and email from a "gallery"  asking us to send a sample painting to show their clients.  Well, those of us with a little experience know this is not how galleries work, but those just beginning may be eager and make the mistake.  

As an artist, receiving an email from a gallery or potential buyer is what we live for.  As an artist manager I field dozens of these emails daily.  Some are truly serious buyers, some are serious but lack the necessary funds, and some are just looking to promote their business.  Unsolicited emails,  it’s the new cold calling.   It takes common sense to wade thru the emails we receive, especially f you’ve been actively promoting your work online, and sometimes no matter how hard you try, it’s impossible to avoid scam email out there. Here are a few tips on what to look out for and how to avoid a problem...

1.  The store scam email.

At Dano’s Gallery, We receive roughly 5-10 emails a week telling us our stripe transfer can not be processed.  These are always for large purchases and if they were legit we could potentially lose thousands in sales.  According to the fraud department at Stripe, they never send this type of email and reporting them quickly helps Stripe to prevent the senders IP address from sending more.
The solution: Never use the same email address for your business accounts login as you do for customer and public communication.

2. The Gallery Scam.

I’m not going to lie this one is the one that frustrates me the most.  Every artist dreams of receiving that one email from A Gallery curator that jump starts their career to the next level.  The problem, a lot of unscrupulous people are looking to make a quick dime or as in the case of my picture, just looking to snag a free painting from an artist they like.
The Solution: Have a list of questions to ask when a potential gallery contacts you like this one here.  Know the questions to ask, and if it seems to good to be true it probably is.

3.  The attention seeking buyer
This can be a problem for artists as the gain popularity.  This buyer emails wishing simply to engage with the artist.  We’ve had potential buyers keep us corresponding. For weeks only to fail to ever make a
Purchase and “ghost” us after they have wasted hours of it time.
The solution:  Keep the conversation on point.  Ask size, color scheme, price range. If they have a specific piece in mind.  Outline purchase policies and shipping clearly so that you can provide good customer service in a clear and concise manner.

4.  The shipping scam.
We’ve gotten a few of these.  And in a nutshell they have their own shipping arranged.  The author of the email usually has a myriad of reasons for insisting they use their own shipper.  Anything from the middle of a cross country move, to shipping overseas.   The gist is they will PayPal you your asking price, plus shipping costs and then their shipping agent will contact you.  According to several articles we googled, the scammers then send you an email telling to that the funds are on hold and once you send a portion of the funds via western union they will release the funds.
The solution:  You can chose to ignore these emails.  Or if you’re concerned that you may lose a potential sale simply respond to these emails  with a link to your online sales platform, (Shopify, Big Cartel) or a link thru PayPal requesting payment.  Clearly outline your shipping policies.  This usually shuts the conversation down.

It’s unfortunate that we live in a world where people would prey on artists just trying to sell their work, but it’s the reality.  A few extra steps can make all the difference in security and peace of mind.