Today Luke Cotton, Information Systems Analyst for the City of Corvallis, sent this citywide email to AFSCME represented employees regarding the recent opt out email that most of us received. I am grateful for Luke’s educational response to the blatant attacks on our privacy at work and on our Union. If you didn’t get to read it at work, here are the important bits that you need to know.
“I recently received an email with the subject “AFSCME’s irrevocable form ”, I bet some of you also got that kind of email. In that email, and emails like it, you should be cautious and look out for a few things.
Hyperlinks / Tracer Links
In the email, the link shown says it goes to one place, but it actually goes somewhere else. All of the links and pictures in these types of emails are designed with a tracer. For example, the link actually has a unique code in it “…SOMESITE.com/ct/53150175:r”. The issue is that the link could send you anywhere on the internet. Never click on a misleading link, especially one from an untrusted source.
External Pictures / Tracer Pictures
Emails with pictures that load from an external website provide the sender with a confirmation that you looked at / opened the email, it also tells them when and where you are looking at the email. For example, the image has a unique address “…SOMESITE.com/cimages/6d431e06d5a9b/AFSCME-75-irrevocable-card_800.jpg” for loading the picture. Once you download the picture, your download is recorded by the sender.
In general you should not load pictures in an email. Only do it, if you trust the sender.
You might notice that the Outlook App loads them, but the app has a setting to stop loading external images. (Outlook App > Three Bars/Menu > Gear/Settings > Exchange Account (CVO) > Block External Images).
What about Unsubscribing?
This has inherent risk, because the sender could send you anywhere when you click the link. Admittedly, the sender already knows you exist, because the email did not bounce, but clicking the link confirms you received it and sends you wherever the sender wants you to go. Similar story if you click the link to send them an email.
You already clicked the unsubscribe link…?
Avoid that in the future. Some have found that after clicking the link the first time, it did not stop the second email. Clicking that link has no guarantee, and again, is risky, because you have no idea what website you could end up at.”
Thank you Luke for looking out for your sisters and brothers!
Sincerely in solidarity,
Ruth Rose Hennessey