I received a disturbing email this week from a writer who was published, but not yet paid. You see, the publication was located in another country. They refused to pay her by check or money order and also refused to pay her via Paypal. How did they want to pay her? They requested her bank information so they could transfer the funds to her account.
Whoa!! She got nervous about giving out that information and told them to send her a check because she’d just moved and didn’t have a new bank account yet. They said that was okay…they’d gladly transfer her money to a friend or relative’s bank account. They just needed that person’s bank name, bank account, and routing number.
I don’t if you’re aware of this, but that’s all someone needs in order to drain your bank account. While many bank accounts have security in place to stop this practice, many don’t. You’ve undoubtedly heard of those Internet scams where someone emails the victim saying they need to transfer money to their account, but they drain the account instead. It’s too easy for criminals to do just that.
You should never give your bank account information to another individual or company unless you have a good working relationship with them already…and only if they’re located in your country. People in other countries can rarely be found by your local authorities and usually get away with their crimes.
If you absolutely must use a bank account for transfers, I recommend you keep the absolute minimum balance in that account and only use it for the transfers. I, personally, never give anyone our bank account information, though many people have asked for it. There’s far too much opportunity for fraud when you do. Magazines should pay via check or money order. They should never demand your bank account information.
See this week’s Ask the Expert for the actual letter we received at WritersWeekly on this topic.