According to new estimates by anti-spam solutions company Commtouch, mortgage refinance offers made up 10 percent of all junk e-mail sent in the past week.
The surge reportedly occurred after interest rates fell to near four-year lows last week, with the benchmark 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaging 5.48 percent.
Mortgage-related e-mail subject lines included phrases such as “low mortgage rates are still available. refinance now!” and “mortgage rates are crashing – see if your zipcode qualifies”.
The company warned that a further rate cut by the Fed today would likely lead to even more mortgage-related spam.
“Now that market conditions have created fervor among homeowners wishing to refinance their mortgages, cyber-criminals are taking advantage by sending more mortgage-themed spam,” said Amir Lev, chief technology officer at Commtouch, in a statement.
“Loan officers and their customers need to be particularly cautious since some content-based email filtering tools used by banks and consumers may block legitimate email messages and disrupt the communication chain.”
Despite the recent rise in mortgage offers, finance-related spam accounted for only two percent of all spam during the fourth quarter of 2007.
Commtouch also noted that e-mail correspondence between mortgage lenders and customers may be delayed or even blocked by “over-zealous anti-spam technologies” which have difficulty differentiating between valid mortgage-related e-mail and spam,” all the more reason to speak to clients over the phone.
The company said it began investigating mortgage spam more closely after a legitimate e-mail sent from one of its own employees to a loan officer got blocked by the bank’s spam filter.
It’s unclear who is behind the spam and what percentage of those who receive such offers actually act on them.