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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Social Network users beware - identity/art theft

I was recently approached by an "agent" on MySpace who sent me a very complementary message about my work. This person then offered to work as an agent for me - going to galleries and boutiques and pitching my work to them. I was interested and wrote back asking for more information, including commissions fees and a description of their working process.

The reply I received to my email immediately asked me to send a CV (resume') and high quality photos of my work. There was no contract, no description of commission or working processes, no references. There was however, more complements about my work.

This smacks of IDENTITY FRAUD AND ART THEFT to me.

If you sell your art NEVER send out your CV/resume' or high quality photos of your work to anyone without some kind of legal business arrangement first.

Perhaps this "agent" is just new to running a business and simply did not think to offer full details and a contract. But if an agent offers to work with with you, please recognize the risky situation in handing over your private information without entering into a legal business contract first.

If you do get a contract - read it properly! If you don't understand anything, ask someone who does understand legal jargon to explain it all to you before you do anything else.

As artists we are largely trusting people who are easy pray for art thieves and because of our presence on social networking sites we are also easy prey for identity thieves too.

Alarm bells should go off in your head if someone ever gives you too many complements and then asks for private information! Please be careful. MySpace is not the only place this can happen, any social network where you advertise as an artist can invite this kind of fraud. I love using these sites, don't let this put you off them! They are an awesome marketing tool! Just be careful.

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