Diane Dimond: Stop the email spam!
You would think that since Mexican law enforcement finally re-captured the world’s most prolific drug dealer I’d be writing about El Chapo and his possible extradition to the United States. Or that I might have something to say about Sean Penn, the fading movie star, posing as a journalist, who wrote a fawning magazine article about the man who has spread so much poison across the globe.
Nope. I’m no fan, but I don’t think Penn broke any laws last October when he secretly traveled deep into Mexico for a clandestine sit-down with the fugitive. Case closed.
This week I write to say I don’t want any free coupons for toilet paper discounts. I don’t need advice on burial insurance, breast augmentation, a midwife or penile enlargement guarantees. I don’t want to click a box on an email and learn what my credit score is or why my hair is falling out (because it isn’t, thank you very much).
Indulge me. This week I write to ask — plead — with the powers that be to pass laws to stop Internet spam. This isn’t free enterprise; this is daily Internet harassment.
Unwanted, in-your-face advertisements, and like those dental implant ads on television that promise you a mouthful of implants “in one day,” many of the promises in email spam are totally impossible. False advertising, plain and simple.
Every morning, coffee cup in hand, I sit down to check my inbox and am deluged with dozens of unwanted email solicitations. I haven’t signed up to get information about “Amazing deals on 2016 SUVs” or “$250,000 Term Life Coverage for less than $14 per month.” I don’t believe there is “One Little Secret to Eliminate 15 Years of Mortgage Payments” or that you can instantly “Destroy Diabetes” or be approved for a “Platinum Visa Card in less than a minute!”
If you use email I’m sure you get this daily garbage dump, too. But a word of caution. Don’t click on anything within this spam. If you do, the senders — marketers such as Atlantis Advertising (which seems to be the most frequent nuisance), ClickBank, Guthy-Renker LLC, Important News LLC, Adnet and others — will know they are contacting an active account and you’ll likely get even more offensive mail.
Sometimes it is legitimate businesses that decide to advertise this way, swarming our mailboxes with screaming promises. These include companies like Credit One Bank, from whom I get at least two solicitations a day for the aforementioned Visa card.
There’s Keranique (“Astonishing Hair Regrowth Results!), Proactiv Skin Care (Free Shipping! + Free Gift!) and the Laser Spine Institute (Suffering From Chronic Pain?). Even a Beverly Hills plastic surgeon, Dr. John Layke, thinks invading our email boxes this way will bring in business (Lift Saggy Skin Without Surgery!).
Do these companies really think the average Internet user will be tempted to open their wallets by these awful ads?
Some will say all you have to do is unsubscribe via return email. It isn’t that simple. First, you have to click into the advertisement and enter your user name. Again, that targets you as an active mark. And it is usually extremely difficult to unsubscribe. You must copy the displayed “CAPTCHA” — a random jumble of letters and numbers — and the system rarely accepts what you type. You can try and try again until you’re blue in the face. You will finally give up in frustration and remain on the blasted mailing list.
This has begun to bother me more these days, because besides receiving this mush in the middle of the night I’m now getting a second blast of annoying solicitations every afternoon. Same junk from the same marketers.
My husband says it shouldn’t bother me so much, that I should just ignore it. But I can’t. And yes, I know there are a zillion other problems in the world that are much more important. But, in my opinion, this is a real quality of life issue.
Legislation has been passed on the federal level to regulate everything from unwanted snail mail to the volume of television commercials. Why can’t this nationwide, daily aggravation be regulated, too?
I think I’ll send a copy of this column to my U.S. senators and representatives and see if they are as irked by this as I am. Join me?