OK, here in its entirety is an email I received last week:
Embassy of the United States of America
American Citizen Services
24 Grosvenor Square
London, W1A 2LQ
April 8, 2008
Dear Fellow American:
Recently, the U.S. Embassy’s American Citizen Services (ACS) sent you an email requesting verification of your contact details. If you have already submitted this information, please do not resubmit it; this email is a reminder only.
Following our initial email, some expressed concern about whether the email had actually come from the U.S. Embassy; and given the prevalence of fraud on the Internet, we appreciate the concern. Generally, official correspondence from a U.S. Government office will have a “.gov” email address. Additional information about this project can be found on the Embassy’s website at http://london.usembassy.gov/cons_new/acs/acs_contact_emails_march08.html
As we noted in our previous email, the U.S. Embassy’s American Citizen Services (ACS) section is updating its registration records so that we can better respond in an emergency. We’ve recently restructured our registration records geographically so that we can better reach out to American citizens when a situation affects a specific region. In the event of an emergency, our goal is to provide critical, time-sensitive information of use to American citizens. To help us do this, we are asking that persons who have registered with us in the past update their records to provide current or complete information.
Please provide the following information to London-Warden@state.gov, by April 15, 2008:
· Your full name and the full names of household members
· Current and frequently used email addresses
· Complete current UK postal code
· Current and frequently used phone numbers
· Full current UK address
Your privacy is of paramount concern to the U.S. Embassy. The information we are requesting will be usedonlyfor the purpose of registration with the Embassy and is subject to the provisions of the Privacy Act.
Please take a few moments to provide all of the requested information. Again, if you have already submitted this information, please do not resubmit it; this email is a reminder only. All responses should be sent via email to London-Warden@state.gov, by April 15, 2008. Thank you for taking the time to register with the U.S. Embassy in London.
American Citizens Services
U.S. Embassy, London
Are they kidding? I was one of the people who responded to the original information request with a note that this looked like a phishing scam. Clearly I was not the only one. However, that did not actually make them think that perhaps a different method of obtaining this information might be more citizen-friendly. Note also that in both cases there was a poorly scanned image of an official-looking seal included as a picture attachment in the message, just adding to the overall suspiciousness regarding the lack of professionalism in this request. Note also that the lack of spaces on either side of the bold word “only” is in the original, that is not a copying error or something that I did. Clearly these folks need to learn better how to use their computers! And as my sister pointed out, they are quite naive if they think that someone could not send out a fake note from a .gov email address.
Note to London Warden: I will not be providing this information by email. If you really want it, set up a secure website and I will happily fill out a form. Since this message (and the previous one) came to both my work and personal email addresses, you clearly know who I am and that I’m here, not to mention how to reach me by email, and for the moment I think that is probably sufficient. If there is an emergency I’m sure that my physical address and phone number would not be that helpful and I’d guess that an email would suffice.