Some of my colleagues have signed up for the Plaxo shared business card / contact management service, and I’m wondering if it’s possible to get spam because I’m a member of the Plaxo service?
Interesting that you’d ask that as there’s been a big discussion on this very topic on the My LinkedIn Power Forum and by coincidence, last night I just received a spam query from a Plaxo member too!
Here’s what I received:
Now you might look at that and say “that looks like someone who knows Dave all right” but a closer examination will reveal that just about every bit of data is extracted from some spammer database: I did write for InfoWorld, but that was at least seven years ago. I did have that Post Office box in Menlo Park, California, but that was over ten years ago.
There are also three different phone numbers listed – none of which ever got ahold of me – and they’re spread across three different states here in the USA. (415 = the San Francisco area of California, 201 = New Jersey and 303 = Colorado).
But what I like the most about this is that some poor guy with the same name at SMC is tied into this too: I’ve never had an email address @smc.net nor has smc.net been where you could find me on the Web.
So here’s how I think this sort of thing works: a spammer uploads as much data as is easily found on tens of thousands of people, then triggers Plaxo sending out an “update your contact information” message. Clueless or overly busy people see the contact info, say “woah! let’s update that, it’s way wrong” and never ask themselves if they actually know the person sending the request.
I can speak categorically that I have never met or interacted with the woman in question. So why am I in her Plaxo database and why is she sending me a query? So she can mark my email address as “live” and sell it to spammers, along with a few thousand other she’s harvested through this tricky but slimy spam trick.
I’ve already had a policy of never updating Plaxo data unless it’s from a close friend or colleague anyway, but this kind of thing makes me even less likely to pay attention to Plaxo, a good idea gone terribly wrong as spammers have taken over.
I encourage you to also be very reticent about whose Plaxo address books you help update with your correct contact information.