I had forgotten about one endearing aspect of home ownership: Since property transactions are matters of public record – there are advertising groups who scour those records with incredible efficiency in order to send out official looking letters offering products for your mortgage or house. I don’t mind the contractors who spend their marketing time sending a business card and a “welcome to the neighborhood, if you need plumbing done, just give a call,” letter. That actually strikes me as pretty smart. In fact, my company does something similar with recipients of bioinformatics grants from the NSF and NIH.

Others are a bit more insidious. They arrive on vaguely official stationary and include my full name, the amount of my loan, and various details to give the impression that the letter is sponsored by my bank. At the top are words like “Official Mortgage Document. Complete and return immediately!”

I’ve written a little response that sums up my feelings on the matter:

To Whom it May Concern,

I recently received your mailing about an “Affordable Mortgage Protection Program.” I assume that you obtained my name and address from the public records of property sales. While your advertisement claims that “[it] is not a solicitation,” it most certainly is. Even if you, yourself, are not a “licensed insurance agent,” you are working on their behalf to gather information about my family and attempt to sell something to us. Therefore, this letter applies to you and all of those associates.

I hereby instruct you, your associates, and your affiliates to cease sending me your unsolicited advertising at the above address. We have no pre-existing business relationship. Please remove me from all of your mailing and contact lists.

The fact that you baldly lie on the sheet of paper you sent goes beyond poor marketing for your products or professionals you represent. It is a case of false advertizing and perhaps mail fraud. I am therefore inspired to report you to the better business bureau and the national authorities for mail fraud. However I notice that you did not include any identifying information on the letter itself. This led me to believe that I was on the right track by turning you in.

You protect yourself behind a pair of PO boxes, one on the return address from the envelope you sent, and another on your “Business Reply Mail” envelope. Those two PO boxes, plus the prepaid business postage account on your envelope, should be more than sufficient for the authorities to begin their work. I’m writing you as a courtesy, prior to beginning the formal complaint and criminal report process.

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