Academic journal article ABA Banking Journal

No Interest in Spam. (against the Grain)

Academic journal article ABA Banking Journal

No Interest in Spam. (against the Grain)

Article excerpt

If you have an e-mail address, then you've noticed a sharp increase in the amount of spam in your mailbox attempting to grab your attention. It ranges from the obscene to the ridiculous. If you're like most people, you're deleting it as fast as it arrives. Yet there is a particular category of spam which should be of some interest to the banking community.

According to a Harris Poll conducted in December of 2002, spam offering mortgages and loans is only slightly less annoying than unsolicited pornography and cheap supplies of Viagra. Mortgage spam is also the fastest growing flavor of unsolicited e-mail.

While I am sure, or rather I hope, that no ABA member is sending mortgage spam to its customers, the general increase in the use of this type of spam poses both risks and opportunities to everyone in the banking industry.

To understand the risks involves an understanding of how mortgage spam is sometimes used. It is not always intended to provide a mortgage service, but instead to collect detailed financial customer data for sale to a reputable company. (See http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2003/03/thirty6.htm for recent legal action by the Federal Trade Commission in this area.) You can see how this tactic might work by actually following up on some of the mortgage spam sent to you this morning.

There is an additional risk here, one which could create a crisis regarding your market reputation. What if one of your employees decided on his own to purchase such a contact list? What image could the media spin if it was discovered your company was a paying client of a spammer convicted by the FTC? …

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