A post or two ago I reveled at my (seemingly) successful attempt to thwart the “Congratulations your loan request has been approved” emails. After I nervously clicked on the link and filled out the opt-out information, the emails did stop . . . but only for about two days. Now, it appears (one would guess from the flood of additional junk mortgage emails) that the site that I opted-out from must have sold or given my email address to 43 of their closest junk-mailer “Congratulations your loan request has been approved” buddies and now I am getting between 5 and 20 of these emails per day. And to think what could have been, at $368,000 in loan money (which they are offering me), I could have about $7 million per day. The most annoying part of it all, especially for a mortgage broker, is that the titles of the emails, if only for a second, continue to fool me (you would think that I would know better).
Loan Request, Information for Loan Request, etc. continue to fool me into believing that a potential client is looking for mortgage advice. It’s a similar feeling to the one we created in my daughter the other day . . .
I had purchased a small $10 reading lamp for her so that she read at night in bed without disturbing her big sister. Abbey, my youngest is an intelligent, high-energy, dramatic, goofy, comedic, sweet little girl. When I told her that I had bought a gift for her, she started jumping out down (intentionally exaggerating) and yelling, “What did you get me?! What did you get me?! What, dad?! What! A new car (she’s 6 by the way)!? What?! What?! Tell me!” My wife, who had been watching the whole overly-dramatic thing, said to her (equally exaggerated), “Daddy bought you a pony!” And without hesitating, and as much as she tried to resist, Abbey’s eyes glanced in to the backyard and for a split-second, her face went serious . . . when she saw my smile, she knew that it was a joke. It was funny, in a sad, make-you-lean-your-head-to-one-side and say, “Aww” kind of way.
So when the “Request for Loan Information” junk email arrives in my Inbox, if only for a split-second, my eyes quickly glance to the bottom of my computer monitor, only to disappointingly see that the email is from a wretched junk-mailer, “Thank you for your loan request, which we received yesterday . . . blah, blah, scam, scam, identity-theft, identity-theft.”
Where was I? Yes, of course, stopping email spam.
Here is some advice on how to protect yourself, and the ones you love, from (mortgage) spam:
1. Use the blind-carbon-copy feature (bcc:) when sending out emails to large groups of people. Using this feature hides the email addresses of the recipients, protecting their email address from spammers.
2. When you forward an email (IF you forward an email, assuming of course that you have verified that it is not a hoax – www.truthorfiction.com and www.snopes.com are both good sources of info), use the bcc: feature and delete the addresses in the body of the email.
3. Create a not-so-important email address. I have a yahoo! email address that I use anytime I am randomly required to give an email address — for a store rebate, special offer, registering to read the newspaper, etc.
4. When publishing your email address on a website or group, proceed with caution. Unfortunately, I learned this lesson the hard way. Spammers have computer programs that scan websites for email addresses; so if your email address is out for the world-wide-world to see, then it’s official, “Congratulations, your loan request has been approved.” ha. Some alternatives to publishing your email address are to use a web-form on your website for potential clients to make the first contact, or using a disposable email address on your website such as firstname.lastname@example.org, or to even list your email address in an alternative format. For example, jpinkerton(at)hillsidelending.com, or jpinkerton @ hillsidelending.com (remove spaces).
I’ll let you know how long it takes for me to start getting junk email to the email@example.com address. Maybe we could start a pool? Anybody for 24 hours??