Over the past year, there has been an unfortunate increase in online fraud of all types. The Big “I" has seen an uptick of a common scam involving unsolicited email offers to sell purported member or contact lists from the Big “I" and state associations.
These emails claim to possess a list of member or contact data from an association, such as the “Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers," and then offer to send email samples and pricing information. The email signatures or reply addresses typically do not include valid contact information and are not associated with a legitimate company or website.
Please be advised that the Big “I" has in no way disseminated or authorized the resale of any member or contact lists and is not affiliated in any way with third parties who purport to sell such information.
This type of scam has targeted a wide variety of industries, conferences, and trade shows. Informal investigations into the practice have found that the lists are not genuine and are likely generated by cheap overseas labor collecting public information from the internet. Threats of legal action are generally ineffective, and there is evidence that these operations will just shut down old websites and open new ones with slightly different names.
The Big “I" advises state associations and members to ignore these types of emails and continue to exercise caution and a healthy dose of skepticism whenever viewing or responding to emails. Paying for a worthless contact list would be unfortunate. Responding to a phishing email or opening a link to a computer virus could be far worse.
If you have any further questions about this or related topics, contact Scott Kneeland or Eric Lipton.