On Spam as a Sign of the Times

The evening news recently reported that more people are eating spam, and cited the trend as a sign of the times. But the other kind of spam, the email variety, also provides insight into the economy.

In an effort to prevent unwanted messages (like those about enhancing the size of body parts I don’t have) from entering my inbox, I use a multi-filtering approach that works really well. The only problem is I have to check the gatekeepers to make sure nothing legitimate has been nabbed.

If I neglect to do this on a regular basis, messages really pile up. Such was the situation last week when I checked a lengthy (no pun intended) list of unwanted email. It was then I noticed a shift in content. Instead of the usual onslaught of messages about magic blue bills and greater pleasure, the spam focused mostly on get-out-of-debt solutions and income generation through quick-fix avenues like gambling.

A sign of the times? Most definitely. Even the spammers know people aren’t seeking pleasure as much as they’re looking to alleviate pain. And a lot of the pain is financial. Record-high gas prices, soaring food costs, rising health care premiums, among other challenges, have people looking for solutions. It’s during times like these that the spammers and scammers slither out from under their rocks and prey on what is unfortunately a growing audience.

The advice, of course, is to be careful. Be very, very careful. Do not, under any circumstances, disclose personal or financial information to an unknown company or individual—online or otherwise. Even when working with a reputable firm, exercise caution; make sure you understand the terms of any agreement before signing. Take your time, do your research, and get your questions answered.

When it comes to debt consolidation and other monetary matters, tap into your resources. Happily, some of these resources are free. Employee assistance programs (EAPs), available as a benefit at many companies, typically provide access to credit counselors and financial advisors, and sometimes to stress management coaches as well. And be sure to keep reading SMW; Money Editor Martin Brown offers terrific, practical financial advice.

Keep in mind, though, that turning your financial situation around requires perseverance. Remember, even the best financial solutions, unlike the magic blue pill, will not provide immediate results.

Paula Santonocito

Career Editor, SingleMindedWomen.com