Monday, October 15, 2012

WHAT, I spent that much last month on my cell phone!

(Update, 10/16/2012, added another example of this type of spam email pretending to be from Microsoft)

Maybe we should have a contest to see who can send in an email that is so good, it not only looks real, it traps you with giving your password or credit card info?

Wait, that won't work, that's what's already going on. And you should see this one (below). I'm sure we'll hear a term for this soon, but I call it System 1 spam. 

With all the amazing professors of psychology on our campus, I shouldn't even try this, but I will. You've all heard of the Selective Attention Test, right? Check it out:

How'd you do? You're mind's attention can be completely drawn away from what's going on right in front of you.

A recent book I've been reading, Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman is a laymen's look at the dual process theory. This theory postulates that when it comes to reason, you have two "Systems", a System 1 and a System 2. Your System 1 is the automatic and unconscious reaction you have to things. System 2 is the rational or analytic part. As I'm learning, your System 1 kicks in automatically when you first encounter something. System 1 then reacts to the situation based out of habit or fear. System 2 is slower and kicks in only after your System 1 has been triggered. 

It appears our spammers around the world understand this dual process theory and are using it against us. I can only imagine if I had seen this in my Inbox, I would have panicked, there's no way I spent that much on my cell phone last week. 

The person who sent me this was easily able to combat her System 1, she doesn't use AT&T so she knew it was fake right away. However, as these spammers get better and better, please, please be careful. You don't know what's next, showing up in your Inbox.

By the way, as I'm also learning, your System 1 can be trained. What should be your first reaction to an email like this? (hint, see previous blog)

Thanks to Brenda Weatherall for catching this!

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