Not long back, it became very common for dodgy domain registration companies to send letters to domain owners that they weren't dealing with. Rather than saying "hey we're a great registrar and here's why you should switch to us", the common ploy was to send out something that looked like a renewal notice, hoping that the receiver would just authorize and pay it without thinking. In Australia, the ACCC (basically the consumer watchdog) has been chasing down and taking action against such practices.
This has me thinking though about the role that we as IT professionals play in enabling these sorts of scams. If we ever want IT to be taken seriously, we have to stop being the ones that enable this nonsense. Recently I was doing work for a client that would greatly enhance their ability to send out bulk emails. Jokingly, I was suggesting inserting a rule that would always omit my email addresses from any of their systems. But it again left me torn as to whether I should be helping them or not.
What really concerns me though is I'm now seeing companies that I would have previously regarded as reputable heading further and further down this path. One I received today particularly annoyed me. Some time back, we purchased an MYOB license for our company. We were offered an annual maintenance subscription and declined. Ever since then, I've been constantly contacted by MYOB-related salespeople trying to get me to purchase a maintenance subscription. Each and every time, I say "I have no interest in this. Please don't call again." What makes it worse, is I'm often paying for global roaming fees on the phone calls they insist on making. But today they've gone a step further. Look at the following letter:
It's hard to perceive this as anything but an attempt to get someone to try to inadvertently pay for a maintenance subscription that they didn't order. (I'm sure the MYOB folk would try to justify it somehow and I'm sure it's borderline legal). It is designed to look like an overdue account, not like an offer to provide the maintenance that I've constantly told them I don't want. The irony is that instead of making me consider maintenance, it will now make me never wish to deal with the company again and to endlessly tell others why I don't want to. Overall, it will have a much worse outcome than what they could have achieved. #MYOBFAIL
But the bigger question is whether we as IT professionals should be helping generate this sort of thing. Clearly, IT folk are deeply involved in enabling this. Alternately, is the desperation for work all that matters and "if I don't do it, someone else will" ?