Spam, don’t you just love it? Okay, I am a little weird and actually I do like the taste of spam once in a while. I put mine on a bed of rice and enjoy it. I know it’s probably not the best thing to eat, but everybody has their guilty pleasures and that’s one of mine.

But the verbal variety I detest. It clogs up my email and now has made its way into texts and phone calls. It seems to have blossomed during my time out of work. I never remember it getting into texts before and the phone calls seem to multiply like the proverbial rabbits.

Some of the calls my phone tags as spam which is nice to know. However I have had a couple of occasions when a legitimate call – a doctor’s office – got tagged as spam. It was only because of a later contact with them that I discovered this. Due to other circumstances if I don’t recognize the phone number I always let it go to voice mail. If it’s important the caller will leave a voicemail and I can call them back at my convenience. If it’s spam they won’t – or I can delete the message.

I received emails about a non-existent house, offers to help with non-existent credit or IRS problems, and offers of help with energy and health issues that I don’t have. I think I even got an email about the oft reported rich Nigerian relative. With my resume posted on work search sites I get plenty of job notices where the sender obviously never read my resume. I have received notices of interviews I need to set up which I have never asked for. And job offers for which I have never interviewed for.

Fortunately I am well aware of current scams. We had a procedure to deal with these at work, with occasional test emails sent by our compliance department. I am resistant to the “urgent” calls to click on some link, and I know the keys to detect spam – as well as the knowledge of what legitimate agencies and companies will and won’t do to handle any irregularities.

A closely related topic is rumors and conspiracy theories. Many people will pass along fear based information without verifying the source. If someone says that such and such organization or government entity is doing something you obviously don’t agree with you need to go to the official source to see what is said there. Often times you will find that the facts have been misread or misunderstood, or the information is incomplete – out of context.

A couple examples: there was a rumor many years ago that a certain person was trying to remove all religious broadcasting from radio. There were frequent chain emails that proliferated, ,but the information was wrong. A quick check of the FCC site would have cleared it up for anyone who took the time to check. But they didn’t and so it made a stink for those of us who worked in religious broadcasting.

A second example is the “pork barrel spending” label that people – even in Congress – love to toss around. They will label projects as wasteful with a simplistic review that will generate public criticism. I remember one time reviewing one of the lists and checking some of the projects. True, there are instances of wasteful spending, but many of them were not. There was a project concerning the damage done by Mormon crickets. On the surface it seemed ludicrous. But if you look into the details you will find that there is a variety of crickets in Utah called Mormon crickets. And they have caused massive amounts of damage to vital crops in the state. The project was designed to solve a real serious agricultural problem and was not a waste of money as originally thought

Just like spam people need to use their minds regarding rumors and resist the urge to spread the flame before determining what is true and what is false. And in the case of false rumors I would urge you to do as I did with the religious broadcasting chain – I tracked it to the original sender (for this instance) and informed them of the error -as well as my immediate sender.