Too Much Information.
Sometimes I think there’s too much information floating around, and not just what people share voluntarily.
I got a speeding ticket a couple of months ago, the first in more than 20 years. I had been down the road before and should have noticed the snail-like 35 mile-per-hour speed limit signs, but they had not registered with me. I was late for a meeting one day, went a little faster than usual, and discovered that the town of Fuquay-Varina collects quite a few fines on that little stretch of road — the same policeman was in the same spot when I returned later in the day. I waved.
My court date, when I could go and plead for a lesser charge if I wished, was August 22. On August 12, I received a stack of 10 letters from lawyers who wanted to represent me, all implying they could get me off with a “Prayer for Judgment Continued” plea if I would send anywhere from $75 up their way. Other letters trickled in over the next few days; I ended up with at least 15, all of which I ignored.
About the same time this was happening, we shifted what remains of our mortgage into our “Equity Line” account at the bank, getting a better interest rate while also shedding a mortgage company that I no longer trust.
Within days, I started getting official looking letters from a variety of mortgage insurance companies. I didn’t even bother to open most of them, despite their deceptive tactics of adding “Immediate Reply Needed” or some other nonsense to the envelope.
In both cases, I’m guessing, my identity as a marketing target was garnered from public records posted at the county courthouse. There are good reasons for that, I suppose, but it bugs me that records made public for a legitimate purpose can be diverted to a prospect pool for ambulance-chasers and insurance salesmen.
If I could opt out of all the junk mail and unwanted marketing I get every year, there would be at least half a dozen trees still standing, though the post office budget would be hurting even more than it already is.
The ready availability of personal information to anyone who wants to mine courthouse records led me to reflect on the thought of a God who knows everything about me, but loves me anyway and doesn’t try to sell me anything.
Professor of Old Testament at Campbell University Divinity School in Buies Creek, North Carolina, and the Contributing Editor and Curriculum Writer at Good Faith Media.