"Daughter Killed in Car Crash". Personal Tragedy Written on Recipient's Junk Mail

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Wed, Feb 5th, 2014 10:00 by capnasty NEWS

It's already pretty disturbing how data brokers buy and sell the personal information of millions of people, it is even more traumatic when a personal tragedy -- the loss of a child who died in a car accident -- is casually placed by junk mailers as part of the recipient's address.

When Mike Seay arrived home earlier this month and found his wife in the kitchen crying, he braced himself. The couple was still devastated by their daughter's death in a car accident last February, and seeing his wife Shannon distraught, he prepared for the worst.

Mrs. Seay showed him a mailing sent by OfficeMax Inc. Below his name was printed "Daughter Killed In Car Crash."

How does such a horrific detail land on a junk mail envelope? Most likely from a customer-service representative who collects information during a sale for the store's use, according to an executive who knows the data-collection industry. Details are electronically passed from company to company and finally to a printer.

Such incidents are inevitable—part of the cost of doing business in collecting and collating information on millions of individuals, said Steven Sheck, owner of customer-data provider MailingLists.com. On rare occasions he has seen obscenities find their way into mailing addresses, likely entered by angry customer-service representatives during a contentious telephone call.

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