One letter comes in a business sized envelope from a company called Westat. The logo on the letter inside says it's from the Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control.
The letter reads, in part: "We are gathering information from adults about health. Your phone number was chosen randomly from phone numbers across the U.S. Westat, a health research company, will call you and identify themselves as calling for the CDC."
Turns out this one is legitimate. A spokesman at the CDC says the letters are advance notice for the annual National Adult Tobacco Survey. Letters are going out to roughly 125,000 people across the country to notify them of an upcoming 15- to 25-minute telephone interview. CDC stresses participation in the survey is voluntary and anonymous.
The letter includes phone number and instructions for any questions or concerns.
The second mailing is from a company that offering cash you for your old gold, silver or platinum jewelry. The packet from Express Cash Gold includes a paid overnight FedEx envelope so you can send your jewelry with insurance protection. Your cash is promised within 24 hours.
Given the numerous warnings about unscrupulous gold buying schemes, the unsolicited aroused the suspicion of the Kent consumer who received it. However, an extensive check for complaints and investigations found no problems reported. The Better Business Bureau gives the company a rating of A+.
I called Express Cash Gold and asked why they're sending these mailings unsolicited. Operations manager Dimitri Kolokouris, the owner's son, told me the company only send packets to customers who request them online.
But Kolokouris said outsiders -- possibly competitors -- use malicious computer programs, also known as "bots" to complete applications on the Express Cash Gold website using the names and addresses of random consumers without their knowledge. This could be one way you can end up getting all sorts of mail from people you've never heard of.