List Cleaning vs. Protection

When my wife and I moved from Los Angeles to West Virginia, we moved in with my folks (or as I liked to call it – “living the American dream”) for almost three months until we found a house and received title.

After we moved, we put in a request with the Post Office to have our mail being sent to my folks house to be forwarded to our new address. Unfortunately, we wrote down “Seibert Family”, which also describes my folks. Three days later we started receiving some of their mail and quickly went down to the local Post Office to correct the mistake.

Today we still receive mail for my parents at our home. Both pieces with the yellow forwarding sticker from the Post Office (they still haven’t corrected) and pieces that have incorrectly updated my parents’ address as our own.

Now it probably is a good thing from a company perspective for cataloguers and the like that they so quickly updated my folks’ address – shows efficiency. The big problem is that many companies with whom my parents have accounts also updated this information without ever asking them! Think credit cards, airlines, etc.

If that isn’t a recipe for identity theft, I don’t know what is. It’s not too difficult to go to the post office and request an address change for someone else. I shudder to think what if someone had mailiciously made this request and mail was going to a predator, not to family.

Even if that never happens (knock on wood), my parents have been robbed of their most precious asset: time. They now have to call each company individually to inform them of the error and request the address change. And if my mom gets someone from another country that can’t speak or understand English, someone’s going to get a real earful.

Today’s bottom line: be sure you have the proper protocols in effect for list cleaning of any type – mail, phone, email, etc. Not only are you putting your clients at grave financial risk, you could also potentially lose contact with what is usually your most precious asset: existing clients.

Justin Seibert

About The Author

Justin Seibert is the President of Direct Online Marketing. Justin holds a Bachelor of Arts from Vanderbilt University. He contributes a wide range of online business-oriented topics, including the subject of exporting. His contributions can be found on publications such as the Pittsburgh Business Times, Advertising Age, SES Magazine, and La Voz del interior. Justin and his family enjoy learning about new cultures during their travels.

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