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Lighthouse

Commercial 'search' spam?

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More of an observation than a question, and I hope this is the appropriate forum spot for this.

A few years ago we bought a car. In the months afterward we got a sprinkling of 'Your warrantee has expired' spam.

This summer we bought a replacement and again, in the months afterward we got another sprinkling of 'Your warrantee has expired' spam.

In just the last two weeks we contacted an insurance agent from a company we don't deal with ... yet, to talk over our current coverages with another company to compare coverages and costs. It never hurts to shop around.

Today, we got this 'You're eligible for a refund' email from "State Insurance" and a Gmail address. All the links pointed to a "getresponses" website when moused over. BTW, our current insurer is State Farm.

Is there a possibility that there is some kind of search targeting bot out there that locks onto company agent searches and can retrieve specific embedded info? In all these cases we've dealt at least partially through emailing for communications and I know that the sales agents have used our information to conduct online checks such as credit checks, accident checks and insurance claim checks to name just a few. It just seems to be a bit beyond coincidence that this is happening and such a targeted way.

Seven years ago we switched from Microsoft to Linux on all household PCs and very shortly afterward we switched ISP. In the last seven years our spam load has been nearly nil, other than after these dealings, so, unless there's some super stealthy malware for Linux that we've got and that doesn't track any other activities, it seems to me that there's some kind of bot or bots watching individualized searches conducted through some companies or at least through their customized search methods.

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There are multiple ways that those who send spam can get hold of someone's email address, without the need to spy on you. A Google search on the terms "How dod the spammer get my email address" will provide a number of interesting and useful links.

I remember the first phishing attempt I received several years ago. It claimed to be from a bank that I'd had an account with a couple of years earlier. A number of things alerted me to it being a fraud. For starters, the account had been closed for some time, and I'd never used internet banking with them. I staill receive occasional emails claiming to be from another bank with which I've had an account in the past.

No matter how cleverly a spammer or scammer fakes an email from an organization there will ALWAYS be some clue that something's not right. For example, an email claiming to be from a legitimate and well established business or organization will almost certainly NOT come from a gmail.com email address.

I'm sure I don't need to regurgitate the usual safety precautions here, such as clearing browser caches and history from time to time, and never clicking on the links in a suspicious email.

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The short answer is, 'Yes, of course.'

I have a 2008 truck and every now and then I receive a 'Your warranty has expired' letter (Really?? ). Letters include the VIN so they are getting their info somewhere. The current news now withstanding, there are lots of people that have access to the files of an insurance company, lots of passwords that could be compromised, networks/WiFi that could be compromised, etc. (right now 4 of the 14 WiFi networks I can see are open. Not even getting into how many of the others are protected by 'password' or 'admin')

Not to pick on just insurance companies or car dealerships, they like most other industries, use data collection/sellers. The fact that insurance company "A" ask about you is in its self data that can be sold to, (1) you current insurance company, (2)...

If buying a car gets you some spam (email or snail mail), consider my recent move to another state; Driver's license, car tags, change in utilities, house for sale, change of address with USPS, bank, credit card(s), Amazon, on-and-on.

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Don't Departments of Motor Vehicles sell their customer records to anyone who wants them? I thought that was the case, unless it's changed recently.

What about this (caution, site may not be safe): dmvfiles DOT org

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The most visible tracks of the beast - http://research.google.com/pubs/DataMining.html

Not just Google of course, Google is just (arguably) the most open (and openly mines e-mail as well as search-engine queries and some browser history). Depending how you define it, AI is up and running - neural networks accessing and digesting databases of almost unimaginable size, finding associations and "patterns" without mind or mentation, merely probability distributions for filters and some simple rules for discrimination.

None of which should "out" e-mail addresses for commercial exploitation by third parties. Study the privacy policies of the enterprises you deal with and jump all over them if there is any evidence of a data breach (it might even be inadvertent and they might be grateful for the 'heads up' - well, pigs might fly too, though in a slightly different universe). Welcome to the 21st century. It took a long time and much anticipation but the future is finally here. Unfortunately, the most potent general driver of innovation and 'progress' remains the same as it always was - greed.

Guess I'd best lay off on the 1,3,7-trimethylxanthine and resume the meds ...

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&nbsp &nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp Well, it often acts on me the way I understand that a low dose of N-methyl-alpha-methylphenethylamine is said to act on its users. :) <g>

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I find that C2H5OH in sufficient doses is helpful in counteracting the effects of 1,3,7-trimethylxanthine.

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&nbsp &nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp And even if it doesn't, you don't mind so much. :) <g> Quite coincidentally, I was thinking just such a thought, for the first time in my 61 years (that I can remember), about just that approach being something that might benefit a caller to our local public TV station that was described to me a few days ago. :) <g>

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My brain hurts! I might wander off and get myself some dihydro-monoxide.

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&nbsp &nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp Careful, lisati, that's a quite dangerous chemical -- it has been known to cause death when submerged in it for too long, not to mention the fact that it is used for at least two different well-known types of torture! For your headache, you may wish to try diluting it with a couple of 2-(acetoxy)benzoic acid or N-(4-hydroxyphenyl)ethanamide!

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A friend who suffers from ulcers introduced me to Dreamcicles in a glass. That's about half OJ and half milk. Yes, it curdles, but if you can get past that it's very good. The fat of the milk and the acid of the OJ neutralize each other and make a very mild drink for ulcer sufferers. However, if you add a couple ounces of Vodka does it become a White Fuzzy Russian Navel, or would that be a Fuzzy White Russian Navel?

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Very droll.

Can we get further off-topic? Of course we can! I just feel bound to mention, seriously, that (suspected) peptic/stomach ulcer sufferers tend to find all sorts of ways to "live with" their condition in preference to obtaining diagnosis and (these days) simple, no-fuss and effective treatment. Contrary to this very natural and entirely "human" tendency to avoid actually confronting the condition, they really, truly owe it to themselves and their loved ones to seek professional assistance, the earlier the better. Otherwise there are risks of progression to worse things. Very much worse. Trust me.

Sorry to be a "wet blanket" but this touches (well, slams) close to home - when the wrong decision, delayed decision (or, more likely, the absence of decision) can, in the worst case, be disastrous - quite literally. So simple not to let it go so far.

And, after that caveat, the Fuzzy White Russian sounds like fun :D Gin and tonic (once the certain sign of a "ruined digestion") gets a bit monotonous after a while.

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&nbsp &nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp In a similar vein, symptoms like severe abdominal pain might be another problem for which medical investigation may be warranted. In my case, it was due to a relatively harmless kidney stone and, had I known that (and that the pain would subside in about an hour), I would not have bothered having it checked. But the Cat-scan the emergency staff used to find the stone also found kidney cancer. I presume that saved my life.

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... that's a quite dangerous chemical ...

Once I was trying to clean a stubborn spot from the floor. I tried some chlorine bleach; it didn't work. Then, with some bleach remaining on the floor, I tried using some ammonia. Some fumes began to rise from the floor.

Then I remembered reading that chlorine+ammonia is how you make mustard gas. :ph34r:

Edited by Dave_L

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Don't know about mustard gas but you would certainly notice the hydrochloric acid vapour as it starts eating your lungs. My wife actually, deliberately, once mixed chlorine bleach and cloudy ammonia on the very reasonable assumption a more potent cleaning mixture would result for the be-grimed bathroom tiles. Chemistry can be SO unreasonable. Nasty, nasty stuff. She only did it the once but she coughs to this day, nearly 40 years later (she persisted though choking, apparently it worked fairly well as a cleanser, frantic husband probably being the only reason she didn't ever use it again).

Around that time I also tried to convince a (diesel) power station maintenance foreman to use the breathing protection I provided when he poured conc. HCl for the coolant de-ionizer, a daily task. He preferred to cough blood but was very touched that someone actually cared. He was ex Kriegsmarine and possibly had some issues with survival. His boss was ex Kaiserliche Marine and had marginally better results in convincing "young" Kurt (he wore a mask thereafter, even with filters fitted, sometimes ... if he knew someone was watching). But whenever he delegated the job, he made very sure his man wore a mask - with the correct filters. People are funny. But mixing chlorine bleach and ammonia is not.

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<snip>

Can we get further off-topic? Of course we can!

<snip>

&nbsp &nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp And now we've strayed yet further from tongue-in-cheek but relatively harmless pseudo warnings and adult beverage recipes :) <g> to handy suggestions for would-be terrorists! :o <gasp>

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Nothing to benefit the forces of the malign (though they should feel free to experiment in a confined, unventilated space, locked from the outside) - just, in these later stages, cautions, hard-learned lessons from the School of Life offered in the hope that others need not recapitulate the actual experiences to know the risks. But yes it has spiralled, in natural progression, way beyond the bounds. But certainly it remains a little geeky.

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