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Wednesday, March 16, 2005 - Page updated at 12:00 a.m.

Hello, me, your credit is a mess: a spam attack

Seattle Times staff reporter

Northwest Lite

Pardon me if these letters look a little blurry. I got the most disturbing e-mail today and my hands are still shaking.

"Re-finance now," it said, "even with bad-credit!"

Even though I'm "credit challenged," the message said I could save up to $400 a month.

And it assured me — deadbeat that I am — that I could fill out an application in only "1 minutes."

Now here's the scary part: The message was from me.

Yes, right up there on the "From" field was my very own name. Crisp and clear. Spelled correctly. Looking right back at me.

OK, I realize spammers can sneak around the e-mail world and grab various addresses, using them however they like.

And truth be told, this wasn't the first e-mail I've received from myself. I was able to disregard the others because they dealt with outlandish promises to enlarge certain body parts and help my love life in ways we needn't discuss here.

I guess I tuned those out as pure cybertrash, the kind of stuff that probably makes Al Gore sometimes wish he'd never invented the Internet.

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But this was different. Why would an actual loan company want to use the same nefarious e-mail practice as a porn-monger?

Keep in mind, this wasn't your run-of-the-mill foreign potentate asking me to help smuggle $40 million into the U.S. It wasn't an offer for cheap Viagra or a genuine fake Rolex.

This was, it would seem, a real loan offer. And there could be only one explanation: This message must actually be from me.

Somehow, my inner shylock has been trying to get in touch with me, and I didn't even know it.

What's worse, this alter ego knows more about my credit rating than I do. I thought that messy little business with VISA a couple of years ago and the bounced check to my landlord in 1978 were ancient history.

Apparently not.

I guess I should have paid more attention to those recent stories about how to check your credit rating. I didn't realize mine was in the dumpster. And getting the bad news from myself was doubly humiliating.

I'm not sure what to do next. Obviously, my other self knows more about me than I'm comfortable with. I don't even want to look at a mirror, embarrassed to see the "credit challenged" person who might be looking back.

I think I'll just lie low. I won't reply, won't fill out the application, won't ask any questions about how my credit rating got dragged down into the basement.

Maybe if I simply ignore myself, I will go away.

Jack Broom: 206-464-2222 or jbroom@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2005 The Seattle Times Company

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