Friday afternoon my phone rang. It was an insurance salesperson. Now, that’s not particularly unusual, I know, but what was strange was that he said he was following up the request I had submitted earlier that day for information. I hadn’t done that but figured it was a typical sales thing and didn’t give it any further thought. Or at least not until I checked my electronic mailbox, which is when the real fun started.
The mailbox was filled with “work at home” offers as well as more insurance information. All of them referenced my request, and apparently they had more info than just my email address, which in general is pretty easy to harvest. I figured this was some wise guy “friend” of mine trying to be funny. I mean, what’s more hilarious than filling someone’s life with unsolicited crap. Or maybe it was a reaction to my piece on Spam Buddies. Fortunately, most also complied with the law and had an “unsubscribe”button which seems to have stemmed the tide of crap. It hasn’t, however, stopped the phone calls from agents which continued as recently as this morning.
I did contact the insurance hub through which many of these seem to have come and told them I wasn’t interested. More importantly, I asked if they had an IP address from which the requests came which if course they don’t log (or don’t share). They did, however, say it came to them via a lead generation company, All Web Leads. Did they harvest my info when I visited some site (although I’m incredibly careful to the point of paranoia when giving out any info)? I was looking for insurance many months ago – is this just an old bit of research coming back to haunt me (nothing ever dies on the web, after all)? Could it have been the work of another phone spammer with whom I’ve been having issues and maybe got a little rude after the 5th call in one day (no, I do not need someone to help me in my web efforts since that’s kind of what I do for others…)? But none of that explains the work at home offers. Sigh…
The point today is that I don’t know how this happened, and if you’re on the receiving end of my info you should be asking yourself how many folks you’re spamming, even if it’s inadvertent. Maybe the right thing to do is to require more detailed, harder to fake info than just an email address. Maybe it’s to send out some sort of verification email before sending offers. For those of us who live in the digital world, it’s a cold reminder that even those of us who are careful about sharing too much are still at risk if we put it out there even if we think it’s protected. I mean, my email, age, sex, and location aren’t hard to find – I want people to find me. Or do I?
If it was you who did this, let’s grow up. If it wasn’t, have you had something similar happen?