Author Diane Duane's bank account cleaned out by ATM skimmers, buy her ebooks at 20% off to help her out!

Much-loved fantasy and science fiction author Diane Duane has had a lot of bad luck lately, but this takes the cake: her ATM card was skimmed and the joint account she and her husband share has been zeroed out, and she has no money left at all to cover daily bills while her bank tries to sort out the mess and restore her balance, which could take a long time. She's asking her fans to buy her ebooks to help her through this brutal patch, and offering a 20 percent discount to sweeten the deal:

W. T. F. My bank card has been skimmed.

It’s toast now (thrown in the fire a few minutes ago, a new one ordered over the phone). But so much for the bills that needed to be paid this week. 2012 had better start getting its act together, as this is not an auspicious beginning.

The bank will cover this expense when its fraud department has digested all the details. But meanwhile, the household is skint. So: if you feel inclined to spit in the eye of the nameless rogue(s) who’ve briefly ruined the domestic tranquility around here, I invite you you to go over to the Ebooks Direct store and buy something using the discount code DDGOTSKIMMED, which will give you 20% off whatever you buy.

Whoopee, our bank account has been cleaned out...* (via Scalzi!)



  1. Having been a victim of fraud myself, even if the money is returned by the bank, it can be a considerable financial burden making it through the weeks that it takes to investigate. I wouldn’t wish it upon anyone.
    If me buying a couple of books makes her life a little easier, I’ll consider that part-repayment for the warmth and generosity she’s shown people like me.

    Back when I was involved in fandom, Diane struck me as a witty, charming, erudite and much-loved author who always seemed to have time for a chat with fans, devoted considerable time to the fan community and seemd to be a general all-round top person.

  2. I never heard of the author, though the Wikipedia entry sounds quiet interesting; uUnfortunately the catalogue in the ebook store is incomplete.

    Any tips for a SF enthusiast?

    1. All of Duane’s stuff is warm, accessible and entertaining, but some of it stands alone better than others.  As a starting point, I’d recommend “Stealing the Elf-King’s Roses” as pretty typical of her work.  Her YA “Young Wizards” series is all good (starting with “So You Want to be a Wizard?”), but I particularly recommend the adult spinoff “The Book of Night With Moon”, which is in the same universe but doesn’t require any prior knowledge. It’s the best SF novel ever written from the point of view of a cat wizard portal physicist.

      It’s just a pity the new editions of the Young Wizards aren’t ready yet; I need very little excuse to buy them all again. Ah well. Off to go buy ebooks.

      1. thanks a lot!

        as ‘The Book of Night With Moon’ is not available as ebook I will test my  compatibility with her writing style with Elf-King’s Roses and Young Wizards I

  3. I purchased a book but skipped the coupon code. I’ve been penniless often enough that I know how much every cent counts when you don’t have many of them.

  4. I’m not an American, but this seem to be very poor bank service. Any Danish bank would provide free overdraft until such a mess was sorted out.

    1. This is pretty typical for an American bank. They tend to let you dangle until they prove that you didn’t take all your money out yourself and declare fraud later. Even when they do prove that there is fraud involved it can take quite some time before they return your money to you.

  5. Also bought the book, but didn’t really think about not applying the coupon code: in retrospect, I should have. What’s 1.20?

    I’m curious to know how many BB readers will buy it? How strong is BB’s influence on such decisions? Myself, I’ve bought some larger purchases(including a $500 scanner) based primarily on a BB review. 

  6. Too late to help this individual, but —  When skimmers started showing up, I adopted the practice of (a) entering my pin under cover of my other hand or a book or something similar, and (b) doing so with a few “false gestures” so it’s at least partly masked even if someone gets a look.

    Not exactly a solution, but it certainly can’t hurt.

    Time for the industry to switch from pin to challenge-and-response or something of that sort.

    (Also time to give up magstripe,  and to go with challenge-and-response on the card as well — or at least to use magstripe only for limited amounts. But that’s going to be an uphill battle, since it probably costs the banks less to take the loss on the fraud than it would to fix the problem properly.)

    1. It sounds like the type of skimmer they’re talking about here may the “false front” type that attach discretely to the front of the card slot as opposed to the mounted mini-camera type.  They are often indiscernible from the normal face of the ATM itself.  When you swipe or push your card in, it is then read by this false front and the data is either saved or transmitted to the thieves.  There’s a great PDF about it from the Consumerist here:

  7. Just purchased the Young Wizards International Edition, Complete Set (epub version for my iPad!)Hope the bank sorts everything out soon.

  8. To Klaus: Yeah, welcome to American banking. Our banks charge massive overdraft fees, and then don’t forgive them when the fraudulent charges are reversed. You have to file a lot more paperwork, and it takes six months to process, and then the bank spits in your eye and tells you too bad and denies your request for overdraft reimbursement.  This is one of the reasons why we Americans are so angry at our banks.

    More on topic, I just yesterday received my “Keep Calm and Check the Manual” poster from DD’s gift shop, and it’s on the wall over my desk right now. Very pleased with it. I’ll see what sort of coin I can find under the sofa cushions to send her way.

    1. I’ve dealt with debit card fraud 5 or 6 times over the past several years (with the same bank). I think the longest I had to wait for compensation from dozens of fraudulent charges was 72 hours. 

  9. It happened to me. Luckily my bank put a three-hunded a day limit on ATMs and that is all they got! It still took months to iron out the problems. I have stopped using my bank CC/ATMs and have started using one of those pay as you go CC.

  10. I had my card cloned while travelling in brazil and they cleaned my account within two days. My bank in UK told me that I could get emergency cash at any branch with a photo ID. And the whole matter was sorted in less than a week.

    That is what you pay insurance for on your cards. I am very surprised american banks leave you to fend by yourself

  11. After my ATM card number was stolen twice I adopted two measures:
    1) never use the credit function of an ATM card (if they are certain it was skimmed it’s probably because they already follow this advice)
    2) keep multiple accounts, one for incoming money, another for pulling money at ATMs: it’s a little extra hassle at the start of each month, but ensures that even if the ATM card is compromised, your primary account isn’t

  12. This type of theft is going to happen whether it’s through skimming, hacking or physical theft. Our latest happened on my wife’s card from an account used solely for automatic bill pay. The card had never been used and had lived it’s life in a safe. Still, someone in Estonia or someplace bought prepaid phone minutes with it. We cover our bases by having multiple accounts at multiple banks (7 accounts at 3 banks currently). That way it would be pretty impossible for one hack to clean us out. Also I watch those accounts like a hawk through alerts and a financial aggregator ( 

  13. On no, I hope everything gets sorted soon. Duane’s Young Wizards series was my absolute favourite when I was a youngster. Especially the one with the whales – I was mad about whales!

  14. That’s awful, and I wish her the best of luck.

    As an aside, if you can afford to do so, have accounts at more than one bank, for this very reason. Some people would even suggest keeping your money at a bank separate from any loans or credit cards, on the premise that some banks would drain your account without your permission to pay such bills, but ymmv.

  15. Unemployed myself, but I could spare five bucks for an ebook at least.  If I dig Stealing the Elf-King’s Roses enough, I’ll look into getting her YA stuff for both myself and my newly-teened daughter.

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