How do spammers know my former home address?
March 16, 2004 11:17 AM   Subscribe

How do spammers know my (former) home address? [more inside, natch]

I sold a condo several months ago. Starting about two days after the closing, and ever since, I have been getting roughly 5 spam e-mails a day, with subject lines like:

[Lastname] Residence: Loan Amortization Basis Points;

[Lastname] Family: Equity Release Directive;

[Lastname] Residence: [Address]

where [Lastname] is my real last name, and [Address] is my now-sold condo's full postal address, down to the apartment number.

I'm curious -- how the hell did the spammers find out this information? Property transfers are public record, true, but how did they connect my e-mail address with the public records? The only person that I can think of that a.) would know my e-mail address and b.) would know the address, etc. of the property I sold would be my Realtor, and I'm sure he has more valuable things to do with his time than sell my info to spammers.
posted by Vidiot to Grab Bag (4 answers total)
Have you ever made a purchase online using that email address? The first place I suspect of any privacy leak, especially email-to-snail address mappings, is an online vendor. You might have to think back through every form you've ever filled out while you were residing in that condo.
posted by majick at 11:27 AM on March 16, 2004

Maybe not your realtor individually, but if s/he listed your info in a national realtor's directory, then the collective data of all entries become valuable.
posted by mischief at 11:34 AM on March 16, 2004

Response by poster: That may well be it, majick -- I have made purchases occasionally using that address. Was just kind of surprised to get all sorts of mortgage-related spam right when I sold the place, though. (And you'd think they'd realize that they're not going to hook me with subject lines about the amortization of the place that I'm no longer responsible for. Then again, they're spammers.)

I was also surprised that they are using the full official post office address, including the quadrant of the city, which I never used and pretty much no one in Atlanta uses.
posted by Vidiot at 11:36 AM on March 16, 2004

A huge proportion of spam is mortgage-related anyways. I doubt that's got anything to do with your recent sale. I'd consider the timing more or less coincidental; maybe the new version of the "One Jillion Poorly-Vetted Addresses" CD just came out.

The lesson to be learned here is to use disposable addresses for transactions with potentially shady vendors.
posted by majick at 3:49 PM on March 16, 2004

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