Read the full article by Wendy Stokes at TheFrisky.com
Most people I know who are or have been in the adult industry in some capacity have had a run-in with one of these payment processors freezing their account, returning donations in best case scenarios and just taking it in the worst cases. As the organizer of an event with burlesque, I had my account frozen for a week, losing vital time to purchase supplies, and I had to submit via email all sorts of information to “prove” I was legit (meaning, of course, not a sex worker). Of course, emailing this private information relating to my account and my identity made the possibility of having my details stolen increase drastically … but I suppose as long as the risk is mine, and not theirs, it was acceptable. And now, here I am, waiting to find out if I’ll be able to pay rent or not… simply because I’m a porn performer, and some people decided to donate money for my non-pornographic writing via PayPal instead of directly from their credit cards.
PayPal and WePay are not required to give answers as to why they freeze or shut down accounts, but often all that’s required is the history (or even the suspicion) of sex work.
Why do these payment processors have such a strict policy on adult performers, so strict that having worked in the industry once means you could find yourself banned for life? I looked into this somewhat and found many such companies claiming that statistically, adult companies were more likely to be high risk for chargebacks (when someone buys the content, often downloading what they want and then calling the company to report fraud). However, I couldn’t actually find these supposed statistics. What I did find instead were porn site owners saying their chargeback percentages were low enough to not warrant calling them high risk, and arguments about what constituted pornography (considered a “risky” investment) versus adult content (not necessarily deemed “risky”). I also discovered other types of business often considered at risk for chargebacks (travel, computer services, sorcery!). But these businesses aren’t targeted the way adult performers are.
Particularly interesting is that Paypal really got its start, not only through online auctions like eBay, but through adult websites and online gambling. Both are things they now refuse to have anything to do with, even though porn sites and online casinos helped rocket Paypal to the popularity it enjoys today. In 2003, citing high fraud rates, Paypal stopped accepting adult transactions or gambling ones, offering instead to monitor user transactions and report potentially illegal activities.