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Mortgage Spam

One of the most common types of unsolicited email hitting inboxes at the moment is that promoting mortgage services. Many of the emails imply that the recipient has already been approved for a loan by making a vague statement such as "we are accepting your mortgage application". These emails are basically just poorly implemented tricks to get recipients to click on the link provided and fill out a form. Gullible recipients may believe that they are actually being offered a loan.

A lot of the sites seem to only last a few days before they are taken down. A great deal of personal information has to be entered into the form. This information could then be used for nefarious purposes such as highly targeted spamming via email, surface mail and telemarketing. The information could also be sold to other spammers. If enough information is provided, scammers might even be able to steal the person's identity. The spam linked "mortgage application" sites I've examined look very suspect to me. Often they consist of just one page containing a form. There is no Privacy Policy or legal document, no information about the company offering the service and no contact options other than the form provided. Often,the form is not secure, which is a good indication that the site is not legitimate. No credible company would expect potential clients to submit information via an unsecured form. A Washington Post article reports that the US based Federal Trade Commission (FTC) took legal action against one online entity, 30 Minute Mortgage Inc, "that had advertised 3.95 percent, 30-year mortgages, hoping to obtain sensitive information, including Social Security numbers, from consumers for resale."

Some of the companies advertised in mortgage spam might actually be providing some form of mortgage related services rather than just trying to harvest personal information. Often these companies offer pay-per-lead affiliate programs. That is, people can sign up as affiliates and every time somebody clicks their special link and fills in a form, they receive a commission. This sort of affiliate program can be a perfectly legitimate means of doing business so long as it does not involve spamming or other under-hand tactics. Legitimate companies that offer pay-per-lead affiliate programs will not tolerate spamming and affiliates who do so will have their contracts terminated. In fact, some quite legitimate mortgage companies such as offer affiliate programs, but they have strict anti-spam policies outlined in their affiliate operating agreements.

My personal policy is to never deal with spammers, regardless of how attractive their offer may seem. If they are unscrupulous enough to send unsolicited email, or allow their affiliates to send unsolicited email, then they have immediately shown themselves to be untrustworthy and they will never get my business.

A typical example:
Subject: Re: Submission

Important Information: (Application Confirmation)

We are glad to inform you that we recieved your application request on Thursday, however, before we can pre-approve you at one low fixed rate. We need for you to take a moment to confirm/update any information as needed. Once reviewing your application the process will not take any longer than 24 hours, you will be contacted shortly with up to four lenders offers.

Secure Application [LINK REMOVED]

You are recieving this because you or someone sent a request. If you feel you recieved this based on an error or did not request we sincerely apoligze for any inconvenience this may of caused you.

Article by Brett M.Christensen