The Critical Eye!
Roof Repair Needed ASAP - Is it spam?
Email is an amazing tool that definitely is key in gaining me business. I am always flattered when somebody finds one of my websites and contacts me for more information. More often than not they live outside my geographic region, so an on site visit to earn revenue is not possible. I often take time to respond and help to whatever extent is possible.
But then there are those dark individuals that have exploited this tool to extract money from the bank accounts of the unsuspecting. And then there are those emails that fall somewhere in the middle. Are they a real request that will ultimately generate business, or are they just trying to exploit for their own personal gain.
This brings to light the email that came into my inbox not less than 10 minutes ago. Is it legit, or is it meant to exploit me, my business, and my funds?
SUBJECT: Roof Repair Needed Asap!!!
I don’t do roof repairs, but I do know those who do. I have written dozens of articles about roofs and I see how this could be a plausible request.
EMAIL ADDRESS FROM: Ray Beson (firstname.lastname@example.org)
This is a common email address provider and the name and name in the email match.
EMAIL ADDRESS TO: email@example.com
Uh oh! This was sent to Harry Smith in the address line and not to my email address. This is a huge red flag and means that my email was on of possibly hundreds in the blind carbon copy (BCC) hidden address line.
BODY OF TEXT: Hello this is Ray Benson...
Oops! The author is now Ray Benson instead of Ray Beson. This immediately makes me want to hit delete.
TUG MY HEARTSTRINGS: ...and am hearing impaired.
The following is what they must be what they think I am thinking... “Wow, this poor hearing impaired individual is needing my help. He being hearing impaired, I must somehow be superior and this lowly individual needs my help. The poor guy can’t spell and has very poor use of simple rules of grammar and punctuation. To top it off his roof is leaking and he wants me to process his stolen credit card. Surely I need to reach down and offer a helping hand. It is not his fault that he can’t figure out how to spell his name, but this must be the way it is for hearing impaired people. Surely I can help.” NOTE: I obviously do not really feel this way, but this spammer is trying to tug on those heartstrings. I am not buying it, yet there is still a part of me that wants to help this hearing impaired person get their leaking roof fixed... Why? I am looking out my window and watching the spring rain fall right now.
AREA CODE: 424
I copied the area code into Google followed by “area code” to see where this phone number was from and found out that it is in Hawthorne/Torrance, California. One of my key shops was located in Torrance and another in Hawthorne, so I know the area. The good side of me tells me that this person was originally from there but hasn’t yet changed his phone number. Surely he is calling from Northern Utah and I can forward him on to help.
HELP OR THROW AWAY?
The toughest part of these type of emails is that this could be a legitimate request for help. The Holy Scriptures encourage me to help others without casting judgment. In fact, blessings are promised when we have the means to help others and we do so without seeking reciprocal benefits. Throwing away request for help is akin to crossing the road as we walk by the man who was journeying from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell among thieves and left by the side of the road. I like to think that I am like the good Samaritan and would help with all that I could, and not avoid and/or ignore. And yet, that is what the financial spammers/scammers are preying upon. They are preying upon the goodness in people.
KEYS TO SPAM IDENTIFICATION
I listed above several steps I look at to disqualify email as legit. Look at the address. Then look at the names. And then look at the body of the email. Is it phrased to tug at your heart strings? Does it specify credit card payment? Is is from your area? Is it written the way a typical person would write? If it fails these tests, then I feel guilt free about hitting the delete button. However, it it passed the majority of these tests, then I would take action and contact them appropriately. If this were legit, then I would forward them the contact info from roofers listed in my online Service Directory.
Beware of Spam Scams!
HAD I RESPONDED
The key to this is what would have happened if I had responded?
- EMAIL - If I respond by email, then my email gets added to a worldwide sympathetic email list sold to other spammers and I become an easy target.
- CELL PHONE - The same is true with a cell phone call. This would lead to having to change a phone number due to repeated calls from scammers.
So while it hurts greatly to be like the Priest and the Levite and cross the street to avoid the interaction, this looks to be a set-up that if I attempted to help, then the rest of his robber gang would jump out of the bushes and do me harm. In this case, they have left too many signs revealing their harmful intentions.
Make it a great spammer/scammer free day!
Michael Leavitt - Orem, Utah - www.TheHomeInspector.com - Michael Leavitt & Co Inspections, Inc.