A New Spammy Low

13 May 2003
2:21 AM

I am sad to report the spam situation has gotten out of hand. Nearly all of my important correspondence comes to my Notre Dame email address. Because I only give the email address out to people, never give it to companies, never post it on websites, and never sign up for acconts with it, I get zero spam. My former address with my ISP, however, does not fare quite so well. In the course of 6 days it accumulated 196 messages. 3 were not spam. About 6 years ago when I, and in fact most people, were Internet novices, detecting junk mail was a piece of cake. Just one look at the subject was enough to tell you that the "Delete" key was the appropiate action to take. Sadly, the spammers have stooped even lower. Now we have to contend with subjects like these:

  • "You've got to see this."
  • "Please get back to me when you can"
  • "Membership Confirmation"

Even worse, I have bad news to share with you. They know my name. They even know that I live near Salt Lake City. This I know from the latest batch:
  • "IRS Taxes, RYAN GREENBERG 5/11/03" (Not from the IRS)
    "RYAN you are currently pre-qualified for a 4.63% 15-year note" I've always wanted a 4.63% 15-year note, but you can't get them anywhere these days.
  • "RYAN, our SALT LAKE CITY branch approved 5.25% 30 yr fixed" They know where I live.
  • "RYAN, I want to send the GREENBERG family $500,000 on your behalf." Why send the money to my family?

Fortunately, the spammers are still too stupid to realize that no one uses my name in all capitals in emails. Moreover, no one makes a big show of the fact that they know my name. I would be in trouble if friends started sending emails like, "RYAN! Make sure you and the rest of the GREENBERG family of SALT LAKE CITY in UTAH come to the meeting tomorrow."

Really, the only viable option now is to fight back. A cool program for the Mac called Spamfire filters spam very intelligently. Best of all, it has a "Revenge" menu (every program should have one of those) that, among other things, lets you flood spammers' databases with meaningless garbage. If it happens that their databases can't handle the huge influx of garbage and crash, well that would just be too bad. Call me bitter. Or call me RYAN of SALT LAKE CITY.