In a previous post, I discussed doing research to protect yourself from scams and disreputable individuals wanting your money without giving you the work you need and deserve. Enter Preditors & Editors, one of my go-to sources for checking the reputation of specific publishing houses, agents, and editors. This site doesn't just give red cards to disreputable folks, but it also recommends those who have stellar reputations.
Writer Beware has a prettier interface, but I always go to Preditors & Editors first when I am preparing to contact an agent with a query. If I don't find any information or a positive entry on Preditors & Editors, I'll cross-reference Writer Beware. After that, I'll often do a google search on the agent to see if I can find any red cards of my own.
That means it takes me at least 40 minutes of research before I will contact an agent, but I'm worth that, and so is my book. You and your book should be worth that too.
Preditors & Editors is pretty easy to use. Click Agents & Attorneys if you want to check the reputation of an agent or a contract attorney. Click Book Publishers if you want to check the reputation of a publishing house. You will then have to use the alphabet navigation to find the individual or business you are looking for. Check all starting letters to make certain you have exhausted all of your options. If you're looking for an agent named Mary Sue Nackney, Check M, S, and N.
Knowledge is how you protect yourself from being scammed. Educate yourself, and you should be safe from those who would take your money and run.