|Blog friends are not always as friendly as they appear.|
Miniaturists and crafters are so nice, right? Yes, most of them are, but a con artist may appear to be the sweetest person in the world, so you need always be on guard!
Here are some tips I've learned about safe blogging:
1) If it looks or feels too good to be true, it probably is. If someone desperately wants to be your friend online, and it feels like things are going really, really fast, proceed with caution. Watch out for people who build up your ego. It may feel good in the moment, but do you know their true motive? It's best to keep your guard up until you do. How would a friend act in real life? You would probably get to know them over time, right? That is a good idea online too.
2) Remember that many people online often are not anything close to their descriptions of themselves. They may try to play on your sympathy to get your attention. There was an interesting online case called "Dave on Wheels," in which a person claiming to be a young deaf blogger with cerebral palsy and confined to a wheelchair was exposed as a complete hoax. Facebook estimates that of the 1 billion Facebook accounts worldwide, 14 million have been set up with malicious intent. How do you know that the blogger who you think you know is really who she says she is?
3) Pay attention to what your online friend tells you about herself. If you start seeing red flags, pay attention. Don't sweep them under the carpet. At the same time, listen to your own intuition. If a small voice inside you keeps saying things like, "I can hardly believe this is happening," or "This is too good to be true," listen to that voice. That voice is there to protect you from unscrupulous persons.
4) Be cautious with online swaps. Oh, the joy of a miniatures swap, right? Yes, they can be a lot of fun, but remember to practice caution. Whatever you send may never be reciprocated. Never invest a lot of money in these swaps. Watch out for grandiose promises from your blog friend. If your blog friend has excuses for why she can't send you a swap gift right way, slow down and reconsider sending your package. If it looks like a duck and walks like a duck, it's probably a duck, right?
Here's a possible scenario: A fellow blogger asks you to do a Christmas swap with her. You are thrilled, since you love her taste in miniatures. She promises you amazing gifts, so you invest more money than usual in special gifts and craft supplies for making her gifts. Then you invest your time making items you hope she'll like. Oh, but now she has excuses for why she won't be able to send her presents to you right way. Do you send your gifts anyway or wait until both of you are ready? Either way, if your friend is a scammer, you may never see any gifts at all, or it could be even worse.
5) Be careful about the personal information you share with others. Your birth date, for example, is a precious piece of information that can be used to steal your identity and eventually get into your financial accounts. Guard and safe keep it, along with your full name (including middle name), mother's maiden name, birth city, etc. Once the information is out there on the web, you can't make it disappear, but it can be used without your knowledge for nefarious purposes.
OK, now it's your turn. What do you do to practice safe blogging? Have you ever been the victim of a blogging or other online scam? What would you recommend that others do to avoid the trouble you experienced? I'd love to hear your ideas on this topic in the comments. Thank you for sharing so that others may avoid having bad blogging experiences. Wishing you all fun and safe blogging! Until next time, keep it fun! xoxo Jennifer