Everybody knows the President of the United States is a very busy guy, what with saving the economy and fighting wars and all that stuff Presidents have to do (not to mention shopping for a new puppy). It seems, however, that he was not too tied-up with affairs of state to drop me an e-mail right after signing the "Stimulus Plan." From the timing of his e-mail one would think the ink had not yet dried on the Bill before he zapped out the personal message I received. Apparently he wants me to get my share of the bailout loot; and it won't cost me all that much, either.
And to think, I wouldn't even have known about his personal interest in my situation if I hadn't been cleaning out the stuff that accumulates in my Spam filter file! Strange that something reputed to be from the President would be filtered out as spam.
I was going to thank the President for his interest in my situation, but saw no need to add to his burden by getting on the active list behind this particular e-mail. Hey, I didn't need an extra billion-dollars anyhow. And, it is just possible the Office of the White House didn't exactly authorize this particular message. Come to think of it, it's highly unlikely to be legitimate; and I suspect I was only one of millions of folks who received and will continue to receive such offers. Probably someone will respond (costing them more than they'll get), but it won't be me.
There are a lot of spammers out there on the Internet wanting to find some way into my wallet. With some help from the Federal Trade Commission, I've set up some guidelines for myself:
First, I have a good spam filter program to weed out the "junk," putting it into a separate file to look at later. I was getting about 2,000 spams a week until we changed to something called Mozilla Thunderbird. Through some computer magic Thunderbird has reduced spams to about 350. Once a week I look over these 350, just in case; but rarely is anything labeled junk anything but junk.
Also, like the junk mail that comes via the Post Office, I'm very careful about opening anything from somebody I did not write to first -- even if it wasn't filtered out.
Just in case I do something stupid and accidentally download a virus, we have a virus-protection program that is pretty good. I got it free from http://free.avg.com. The key thing about these programs is to keep them updated; otherwise they will be totally ineffective after about a week! It's hard to believe, but there are people around the world who do nothing all day but try to find ways to get me to go to some web site which will take my money and do all kinds of stuff.
Finally, to protect myself from the bad guys, I never bother replying to anything that promises me my share of a billion-dollars -- even when it says it's from the President of the United States.
For more information, try going to www.OnGuardOnline.gov (it's a legit site).
David L. Lewis is an observer of and sometimes commentator on life who may be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.