I don’t know about you, but I’ve been inundated with spam lately. I’ve seen an increase of spam on Twitter. I’ve been hit with a wave of LinkedIn-related spam (via email), and due to switching Web hosts and having my spam filter settings reset in the process, my inbox has been completely flooded with all kinds of spam.
I think spam today is actually a bit more interesting than old school spam. Sure, I still get the emails about male enhancement products and from make believe Russian brides (I think spammers forget that women use email too — those attempts don’t work on most of us). So today I want to share a few things I’ve noticed about the spam that does get through filters, and how spammers are trying harder to get your attention — although hopefully not succeeding.
1. The “re:” spam.
This kind of spam annoys me greatly. The subject line is set up to look like a reply to a previous email you sent. It tends to get through spam filters more than other general spam types from what I’ve seen. It’s still easy to identify once you actually look at it. But these are tougher to mass-delete because you don’t want to accidentally delete genuine replies alongside them. Therefore, you go through them a bit more slowly, and the spammers get what they want — more of your attention.
2. The “photos of your wife” spam.
I received a spam message with that heading recently (and ironically a colleague tweeted about receiving the same thing that day). I’m an unmarried woman. So I didn’t see “photos of your wife” and have a shock-based reaction that drove me to open it and its attachments. But I could see that kind of shock headline hitting a non-spam-savvy married man like a ton of bricks, having him open the attachments expecting to see something awful. And he probably would — just a virus rather than pictures of a cheating spouse. It’s kind of scary, but you really have to be able to keep your cool while reading email these days apparently.
3. The “@reply” Twitter spam.
If someone spams you on Twitter via a direct message, you can report them and delete it. But Twitter spammers are getting smarter. Maybe it’s just my account, but I’ve seen an increase in @reply spam recently. They leech onto a keyword and auto-reply to spam you with a link, or they just go through lists tweeting the same marketing message to everyone. The problem? You can’t delete @replies like you delete spam DMs, even after reporting the person for spam and having them automatically blocked. Wouldn’t it be fantastic if @replies went “poof!” when someone was blocked? After all, the point of blocking someone is that you don’t want to see what they have to say and you don’t want them involved with your account in any way, right?
4. The “resume” spam.
I’ve received a major onslaught of resume-related spam over the last week. The subject line usually just says “resume.” There is an attachment — supposedly of a resume. Some act like they’re applying for a job vacancy you advertised and some ask for feedback on their resume. I really can see how people could get sucked into opening these ones. The only reason I didn’t is because about ten of them came through at once, so I knew something was fishy. But I do often get students in my industry or readers of my blogs asking for similar advice and feedback via email. And if you run a business and you really did post a job ad recently, I can see how you might assume it’s safe to open. HR folks — just another reason to insist on specific email subject lines from applicants, and have them post resumes in-email rather than as attachments.
What about you? Have you seen a surge in any particular type of spam? Have spammers been getting better at making their spam look more legit? Are they catching your attention at all? Share your thoughts in our comments.