Envelope tricks make what's inside nothing more than junk mail

The Leckey File

Your Money

August 15, 2004

Excuse me, but I must write this column in haste. Having just returned from a trip, I find my mailbox stuffed with urgent financial materials that I must act upon immediately.

"Important information about your financial account" reads one envelope. Another has the stamp: "Dated material. Immediate response required." Better yet: "Enclosed is an upgrade to your account." Another envelope doesn't say anything at all, but peering through its clear cellophane window I can see what looks like a nice check with the name of yours truly on it.

These envelopes with business logos, even the ones bearing the name of a financial institution holding an account of mine, have one thing in common: They are junk financial mail designed to trick me into thinking they're so important that I must open them.

Let's say you just took out a mortgage. Not only will you receive envelopes "About Your Mortgage" from rival lenders urging you to refinance, but your own lender will send you mail that appears linked to your mortgage but is actually an offer to shell out money for insurance or some other product.

Honest financial institutions should clearly state on their envelopes whenever the materials inside offer a product, especially in mailings to existing customers. Deception aimed at consumers raises a red flag that these institutions may play the same games with their own financial statements. Sooner or later, consumers may not be the only ones receiving fake "non-negotiable" checks from them.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.