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:
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.