Famous Last Words: Gone Phishing
In the late 1960s and early 1970s I woke every morning at 5 a.m., wrote fiction for two hours and then went to work. Three novels were published. All three garnered a string of film options from major producers. No film was ever made.
During this past summer, it occurred to me that these novels still might make amusing films. Since my wonderful agent, Marvin Moss, died a decade ago, the only way to resurrect the novels would be to create a Web site that included first chapters, reviews, book covers, etc. If a producer became intrigued, I could be contacted for a reading copy. So I wrote and designed www.dennyhatch.com, a collection of everything I do and have done—fiction, nonfiction, marketing books and consulting services. Included are direct marketing checklists, a bibliography of marketing books and an offer of a free critique of your direct mail package or ad. More to the point, every screen on the Web site has an invitation to contact me—by letter, phone, fax or e-mail. I want to hear from interested people. I mean, nobody will ask for a reading copy or offer me a screen deal if they can’t reach me. Duh.
What prompted this column was the following e-mail from AOL with the subject line: “AOL billing update.”
“Dear AOL® valued member,
As part of our continuing commitment to protect your account, we are undertaking a period review of our member accounts.
It has come to our attention that your AOL account information needs to be updated.
You are requested to visit our site through the secure link mentioned below, and fill in the required information within 48 hours.
I clicked on the URL, and up came a questionnaire that told me my credit card had been refused last month and that AOL required updated information. The form reeked of AOL—logos and language and the actual AOL customer service phone number. What was I asked for? Name, address and phone number; mother’s maiden name; Social Security number; credit card number; credit card I.D. number; credit card PIN—everything needed to steal my identity. And all of it under the presumed and soothing aegis of AOL.