Social Media

I’ve received a letter inviting me to join Nextdoor. Is it a scam?

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Letter campaign: Nextdoor sends out invite letters

I get about 500 emails a day inviting me to join some website/app or other. The other day, however, I received a semi-personal invite to join an online ‘neighbourhood hub’ called Nextdoor through the post. Yes, a good old-fashioned letter. My first instinct was this is a scam. But a little further investigation revealed it isn’t.

The Nextdoor letter

Here’s the letter I received from Nextdoor, with sensitive bits of info blurred out:

Nextdoor letter

The first blur uses my street name, while the second one is the name of the neighbourhood (not the town) we live in. Under “your neighbour”, it gives the first name of the supposed sender (I’ve no idea if he actually exists or not) and the road he lives in.

To be clear, this letter wasn’t just dropped through my door by said neighbour, it was delivered by Royal Mail and addressed to “[My neighbourhood name] Neighbour”.

Is it a scam?

As mentioned, when I first read the letter I assumed it was an elaborate con. However, it seems likely that it’s not, but is instead a ham-fisted attempt to get me to join this social network.

If you visit the Nextdoor website, it has a page dedicated to these invite letters, including a sample letter that’s near identical to the one above. It claims that:

“The invitation letter was sent on your neighbour’s behalf, with their permission, and has been delivered to you by the Royal Mail. Because every neighbour must verify their address to become a member, you will only receive invitation letters from real neighbours living in your area.”

What’s more, it claims that this is an “invitation you can trust”, not least because “Nextdoor also works closely with police forces and local councils across the UK, who use the platform to provide residents with the latest crime and safety updates, scam prevention advice and news in their area.”

Indeed, the P.S. at the end of the letter is trying to use the hook of missing out on information about local crime as an incentive to join, which is a cheap shot.

I definitely won’t be joining Nextdoor. I don’t need another social network in my life, not least one filled with my neighbours reporting lost cats or shifty-looking geezers they’ve caught on their Ring cameras. Christ knows, I get enough of that on dog walks.

I absolutely detest the way this service markets itself, not least the insinuations that you’re missing out on information from the police and councils. If my local police force/council decides to only share info with a US-based social network that is clearly harvesting data to sell to advertisers, then they’re going to get a letter or two from me.

About the author

Barry Collins

Barry has scribbled about tech for almost 20 years for The Sunday Times, PC Pro, WebUser, Which? and many others. He was once Deputy Editor of Mail Online and remains in therapy to this day. Email Barry at barry@bigtechquestion.com.

11 Comments

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  • Definetly not worth signing up to, I registered following a Facebook invite. It was exactly that, people giving away free stuff, advertising or complaining about dog poo. One for the recyling that letter.

  • To be fair it’s a useful way for the council and/or local Police to inform a neighbourhood of local issues.

  • While the ‘letter’ may be authentic, it is indeed issued by known scammers who manage the nextdoor site. Data gathering, info harvesting, tracking, marketing tactics, and the use of your personal address and ID all comes into play with nextdoor’s suspect ads tracking system. If a potential member can’t or won’t verify his or her address, nextdoor handlers require that the members scan and send them their address, complete with name, underhandedly done to send spam, phishing attempts, fraud, and unsolicited postal mail. Worse, advertising your address all over the place on nextdoor also can invite criminal home invasions and robberies and cell phone scams and phishing attempts. The nextdoor group is one not to be trusted especially since the handlers as well as numerous members are known scammers. Fake members often insinuate themselves into these types of entities to steal and defraud others in the group with no one the wiser. Add that there any complaints by members of package and mail thefts though those theft incidents would much less if members didn’t display their home addresses or submit their personal addresses to nextdoor site managers.

  • I have received one of these letters and although it stresses it’s free to join it asks for credit card details. I didn’t join but worry that vulnerable people might. As it’s a free site why would it ask for credit card details if not for scamming purposes.

    • That sounds like a fake, spoofed email. I’ve been on Nextdoor for a couple of years and haven’t seen anything even needing payment.

  • There seems to be no way to close your account and/or delete whatever info you submitted for your “account, and no USPS addresses whatsoever. Sure looks like a scam, and I got sucker into “joining”. Feeling very foolish!

  • Seems a bit of a ‘coincidence’ that my local Nextdoor also has ‘already over 800 posts’. What are the odds?

  • I just received this letter by mail as well and they gave a first and last name, as well as street name of one of my neighbours. I checked with her and she is mortified, yes she signed up for the app but she NEVER requested a letter be sent on her behalf. She’s incredibly creeped out. As am I.

  • We get direct information from the police department, fire department and from Council. I have been there for 5 years. Cat lover and dog lovers groups are there also. They all inform the public of what is going on in their neighborhood.

  • i just got one today and came to the interwebz asking the same question. this letter (im in the states, mine is addressed to “Neighbor” and the P.S. verbiage is slightly different but its the same letter) might seem harmless, but as an IT professional, i see this letter as Social Engineering at its finest. you could get a lot of useful identity-stealing information from the users directly… and say someone decided to be nefarious, that link could contain anything from PUP/virus to targeted analytic information gathering to Russian spies… seriously.

    i mean, it might be a harmless invite but this is just another tool to gather information for targeting people with ads and services (also selling your information they can gather to whoever will pay for it) with the potential to be so much worse. the people sending these letters are just greedy vultures looking to clean the landscape of any free dollars in whatever form they come. cockroaches, louse, leeches, vultures, parasites of all shapes and kinds surround us on a daily basis and this is another in the ever-growing list.

  • 2 of my neighbours contacted me yesterday as they had received a letter (2nd class stamp), purportedly from me. Same as the letter above. I am really annoyed that my (good) name has been abused without my consent. But then I read this and their updated Privacy details and I have obviously signed up to allowing them to do whatever they like with whatever they can harvest. I had been thinking about deleting the app as it wasn’t much use to me, I am out now, who knows what damage has been done?

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