E-cards: I delete them all unopened. ... You?

Send me an e-mail and chances are you'll get a reply. … Send me an e-card, don't hold your breath.

I don't open them -- ever -- and, if an unscientific survey of my office colleagues is any indication, I am far from alone in this delete-on-sight detachment from these ubiquitous electronic annoyances. A few co-workers open e-cards selectively; most don't at all.

The matter percolated to the surface recently when Symantec released its latest "State of Spam" report that included this nugget: "Greeting card spam remains a spammer favorite.  Symantec saw over 250 million of these spam messages being targeted towards a sample set of customers in July."

Seems as though at least two or three a day make it by our spam filters. (No word of a lie: Three have popped into my inbox since I've been writing this item.) … Delete, delete … delete. Not so much as a moment's thought.

One reason I've unilaterally stopped opening them is that I receive so many that are obviously spam that I do not consider it worth my time to attempt to differentiate between those that are spam and the 1 in 100 that might actually be from someone I know. The cost simply outweighs the benefit.

There's a small risk in this approach, too, as a colleague just mentioned that he recently deleted without thought an e-card that carried a legitimate invitation and the party so ignored expressed a degree of pique over the perceived slight.

Tough noogies, I say, use a form of communication that doesn't require the recipient to play detective before opening.

Take a look at the hoops one e-card company, Blue Mountain, wants an e-card recipient to jump through in order to be certain the e-card he or she received is safe: "Is the eCard I received valid?"

On second thought, don't take a look: Life's too short to read the lengthy instructions, never mind actually execute them just to see some silly animation.

Frankly, it's a wonder anybody opens these things given the prevalence of headlines such as these, culled from just the first page of results on Google News for a search on "e-cards":

Not quite a Hallmark moment: E-cards sent by identity thieves.

Fake e-cards signal massive DDoS attack.

New Computer Scam Involves Bogus E-Cards.

E-card can kill your computer.

E-Cards Deliver New Internet Danger.

And then there's this SANS alert on truly malicious cards.

Last week I sent e-mail inquiries to a half-dozen companies that market e-cards -- including Hallmark and Yahoo -- asking for comment about the impact spam and virus threats are having on their e-card customers and e-card franchises.

Haven't heard a single word in reply. … Perhaps they didn't dare open my e-mail, or perhaps it's a topic they would simply rather not discuss.

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