I don’t know about you, but I’ve seen a definite increase in email messages that seem to be mistakenly sent to me instead of someone else.
I just deleted a few from my personal inbox this morning. I delete a few from my work email several times a day. You may have received a few yourself: they’re mysterious email messages from companies or even potential customers looking to do business with you.
I deleted one this morning that started off by asking if my law firm specializes in a particular type of legal case. I receive messages inquiring about price quotes for products I have nothing to do with.
For a while, it was easy to feel the temptation to respond.
“I’m sorry, I think you reached out to the wrong person,” I might have once replied.
The temptation is logical, particularly for people of a certain age.
Blame it on basic telephone etiquette.
When people my age and older were kids, we learned how to properly operate a basic home telephone. Yes, friends, there was a time when people did not emerge from the womb with a smartphone already in their little hands. We had to learn how to use a telephone.
I still remember — from about first grade or so — watching a film produced by the Bell System about how to use a telephone. It was a fantasy-type movie, about 30 minutes long, played in classrooms from coast to coast. The film, Telezonia, showed everything from how to dial a number to how to properly answer an incoming call.
Did it really take a half-hour to go over all of that? Face it: Maybe we weren’t quite as generally tech-savvy as we are these days.
Back in the old days, we learned that if you received a telephone call from someone with the same approach as these emailers, you politely informed them of the error.
“I’m sorry, but you have the wrong number,” we’d say.
Nowadays, we just hang up without responding…if we even answer at all.
Etiquette can be a bad thing with these random email messages.
Security experts warn, however, that when it comes to those random email messages, responding is a bad idea.
We’ve all heard of phishing schemes in which an emailer pretends to be from a legitimate company. You might receive a message that purportedly comes from your credit card issuer. They want you to click a link to verify a purchase they claim seems “suspicious.” You click the link, enter your login to your credit card account, and have unknowingly provided your credentials to a criminal.
But this little scheme is much more basic. Many such emails are sent to people the senders hope will respond. That’s because the emails are generated and sent to thousands of email addresses. They’re not looking for a response stating that the sender made a mistake: they’re just looking for a response.
When they receive one, they know that email address is valid and active.
They then place that email address on a mailing list. The result? You start getting more and more spam messages.
No one has time for that, right?
So when you receive an email asking for your prices on a product you don’t sell or for a service don’t provide, don’t respond.
Just delete it.
Don’t give them any reason to believe yours is an active email that they can sell to someone else for their phishing schemes or marketing messages.