unsubscribeOnce of the most common questions I get asked by users is: How do these spammers get my e-mail address? There are a number or methods that these spammers use, and I will focus on the third of these methods, in today’s blog post: By using Subscribe/Unsubscribe newsletter services.

In the 21st century it can be said that “Knowledge and not Money is Power”. The two are closely linked. Knowledge or “data” is a hot commodity on the Internet. Facebook, for instance, has over 1.2 billion users. That is a lot of people and a lot of data! Just think of the value of that data if Mark Zuckerberg (the founder of Facebook) decided to sell that information. What would be the value of that data?

Many times you might receive e-mail in the form of a newsletter that sometimes has a button down below that’s marked “Unsubscribe.”, but will the newsletters really stop if you click on it?

There are many unscrupulous newsletter senders that will sell your email address for a commission. A very common unsubscribe tactic is to send millions of people a false “you have joined a newsletter” e-mail. When users click on the “unsubscribe” link, they are not actually unsubscribing but unwittingly confirming that they are a real person with an active email address, and this typically results in getting more spam, and soon the spam flood will spiral out of control. Furthermore the spammers will then sell their database (containing your “confirmed” e-mail address) to other spammers and unscrupulous marketing firms.

Another vector that spammers use to obtain your e-mail address is through legitimate newsletters. You may often subscribe to a legitimate newsletter service and receive newsletters with not problem, but as soon as your personal information and contact details are placed into the care of a third party (the legitimate newsletter service) you are relying on the fact that their system and database security is adequate and is not vulnerable to hacking and identity theft. Hackers could break in and steal the database of e-mail address of the original newsletter service, and very quickly your e-mail address could be in the hands of spammers and scammers throughout the world!

Another sobering fact is that often marketers and newsletter services gather e-mail addresses and then sell this to a third party. Often this is mentioned in the “Terms & Conditions” when you originally subscribe, giving them the rights to give your details to their “partners” so they can contact you.

This way you become the unwitting victim in the business of selling and exchanging data!

Remember these important tips:

  • Survey Sites tend to generate a lot of junk mail. While many people use surveys as a great part-time source of extra income, signing up for surveys, free gifts, free drawings, etc. often distributes your e-mail to many unwanted mailing lists.
  • Try to keep your junk mail to a minimum by not giving your e-mail address to anybody that you don’t know, trust, or use for business purposes like your bank, business websites, etc.
  • Many different junk e-mails can come from the same source. Once you start “unsubscribing” from these e-mails, you’ll begin to notice that some of the unsubscribe pages look the same.
  • If trying to get information from sites requiring an email address try abc@123.com or similar rather than your own email address. By entering a non existent email address yours doesn’t get logged & targeted.
  • If you cancel a subscription, and e-mail keeps coming, it may be necessary to add the junk mail’s sender or domain to your blocked list.