Data Vendor Sends SPAM about The Dangers of Prospecting Databases
Today (4 September, 2008) ComplianceAndPrivacy.Com received an email that appears to be from Harris Infosource, a D&B Company. Not a lot wrong with that, you may say. The email is a cold unsolicited email, or SPAM, What makes this amusing is that the SPAM has this subject line:
"Why Using Cheap Prospect Lists Can Cost You Big!"
Harris Inforsource, it seems, are the purveyors of fine prospect lists.
Harris addressed their SPAM to Milton Bennett at our domain. If Milton existed, if Milton had ever existed, if we had ever created, used, publicised an address for Milton, who is not now and never has been a member of our staff, then this would have been something we could pass off as "just one of those things". But we have never heard of Milton Bennett. He is a figment of Harris Infosource's database. We wonder if they are selling him as a part of their very fine data.
But this is SPAM with a cloned email address.
Look, here's a screenshot of the email:
The purists will note that this is a composite of two screenshots. It couldn't be captured as just the one. And there is the email address, plain as a pikestaff.
Seems like the "rigorous, patented DUNSRight™" process fouled up rather well there, then!
Oh the irony! We do hope they use their own systems!
We're cynical here at C&P, so we did some small digging. After all, Harris Infosource might have been the target of some wicked person who was trying to discredit them. But it appears not. The "from" address is harrisinfo-mail.com, not harrisinfo.com, so we did a Whois check. Harrisifno-mail is owned by Smartsource, who are an eMarketing company. That is not a surprise. Any sensible corporation outsources its email to avoid its own domain becoming known as a source for SPAM.
We checked. Our Peter Andrews forwarded the email to Harris Infosource as an attachment, to ensure that they coudl inspect all the email headers. He sent it to email@example.com and also to firstname.lastname@example.org asking:
Is the enclosed email from your company?
We like to check before we run a story, after all.
He received the following answer from a sales guy. Hmm, not exactly 'customer service', then:
Good Afternoon Peter,
Yes the email is from our company.
(we have edited out personal information)
Harris InfoSource (A D&B Company)
(role edited out)
Tel. 800-888-5900 (Extension edited out)
Fax (Fax edited out in case it identifies the writer)
email edited out | www.harrisinfo.com
So, it comes from Harris, it is genuine, not a cloned email in order to wreck their reputation.
Peter confesses to having been a little naughty. He has sent them the following reply:
You are 100% sure about that?
If so, how did you get the data? Milton's email address doesn't appear anywhere. I'm his manager and he's an intern here.
Remember that Milton does not exist, never has existed. But Peter is interested in the source of the data. Harris Infosource are, after all, a D&B company, and appear to understand the damage that bad prospect data can do to an organisation. Harris Infosource's website says that they are purveyors of data.
The reply wil be interesting. We'll bring it to you when it happens.
There has been nothing from the "abuse" address. One might think such an address woudl be monitored, but it appears not to be.
We're fair minded. Harris Infosource is welcome to make a full reply to this article. We'll publish it verbatim, thiough we reserve the right to take trade puffery out. They can email the fictitious Milton with it if they like. We get to see all badly addressed mail. "Milton" will now be maintained as a SPAM Trap, now, though. All mail to Milton gets forwarded to the SPAM vigilante groups.