There's yet another hidden danger in spam that occurred to me today after receiving my umpteenth mortgage refinance junk letter in the mail. So much information on the dangers of online scams (be it in the form of spam, phishing, or other types) has been disseminated that most people now treat online come-ons with some caution.
Unfortunately it is possible that all the attention to online fraud has shifted the focus away from mail fraud. You know, the kind of junk we all receive in our mailboxes everyday. I'm afraid that people may be letting their guards down and may be becoming more trusting of what they receive in their mailboxes.
With a recent drop in mortgage rates coupled with recent stagnation of the housing market and the end of fixed terms for many interest-only mortgages, mortgage companies have been on the prowl for new business. That may explain the flurry of letters we now receive inviting us to refinance our existing mortgages to lower rates.
The refinancing invitations are not new phenomenon. They've been around for years, but the timing to snag unsuspecting homeowners may be just right. The junk mail letters come in all shapes and sizes, but they have one interesting characteristic in common. They all have the appearance to be from the actual mortgage company that the homeowner does business with and that could dupe the homeowner into believing that the letters are legitimate correspondence form their mortgage company.
Most of them highlight the name of the mortgage company in large fonts and try hard to divert attention from the fact that the letter is from a totally unrelated company offering to refinance the existing mortgage. The small print (also known as mouse print) says it all. It usually states that the mortgage information was culled form public records and the sender is not associated or affiliated with the homeowner's actual mortgage company.
Perhaps it's a bit harsh to judge all these letters as scam, and this practice might not be illegal, but people should be aware that any company that tries so hard to hide its identity, while impersonating the homeowner's present mortgage company on the front, is being deceptive and their letter deserves a swift trip to the trash can. They are as bad as any refinancing spam they receive via email.
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