I hate receiving so much unwanted e-mail! In my family we follow most of the rules. We don’t sign up for contests or take quizzes. We don’t post our e-mail addresses in strange places, and we never forward chain letters or respond to the many ridiculous things that arrive in our electronic mailboxes. Yet the message glut is frustrating everyone in my family on a daily basis
Of course some of the mail arrives because I’ve signed up for alerts or news, but other messages arrive for unknown reasons. After ordering from a catalog, I’m often asked to provide my e-mail address so a confirmation can be sent — which I like. But then, suddenly, I start receiving daily messages — which I don’t like. In fact, when a store or catalog starts sending me several e-mails a week, my inclination is not to order from them again.
Every minute of every day people are victims of online scams — most often they arrive via e-mail. Some experts estimate that one person every 10 seconds is a victim of some type of scam or identity theft, and often the theft of personal information is easier because the victim unwittingly provides personal data. Families with multiple computers are especially vulnerable because people are working on many different online tasks. Children are susceptible to scams with animals, sick children, and the hardships of disasters. Kids need to be reminded – frequently – not to hit the reply button, no matter how good the cause.
The consumer affairs reporter at the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Sheryl Harris, has developed Scamfinder, an extensive database to help people identify questionable e-mail or phone calls.
While most of us are familiar with the unrelenting e-mails from Nigeria, many other online scams, usually delivered by e-mail, are realistic and unnerving because they hit so close to home — for instance a charity soliciting around the time of a natural catastrophe or a seemingly thoughtful person writing to ask for contributions to police or victims of abuse. Sheryl Harris is often featured on the Market Place radioprogram, most recently on September 6, 2010. Scamfinder categories include: