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Spam Emails - Your Response?

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Nuisance To Nightmare

Yesterday we received spam emails from a number of companies. These spam emails were not only sent to us but to numerous other people.

The problem? We didn't sign up for these emails, we didn't subscribe to the companies newsletters or any marketing materials, we didn't drop our business card in a collection box at an exhibition on the understanding that the companies would get in touch. In fact we don't know them.

To make matters worse they cc'd everyone else in, so each company receiving the email could see everyone else's email address.

This was the start of the problem which quickly escalated from being a nuisance to a nightmare.

Over the next two days we received 35+ spam emails from companies who then decided to jump on the bandwagon and market themselves. Some sent back emails explaining that the companies sending the emails were guilty of spamming, others "replied to all" and sent back "unsubscribe "requests.

Unfortunately those companies "replying to all" instead of only replying to the company who originated the spam emails, are also guilty of breaking the UK law on spam emails.

Spam Emails — What Not To Do

  1. Don't "Reply To All". If you feel you must respond reply only to the person or company sending you the email. "Replying to all" isn't responsible and labels you as a spammer.
  2. Don't Promote Your Business. People already frustrated by spam emails are unlikely to take kindly to you sending yet another email promoting your business. It's more likely that they'll report you for spam.

Spam Emails — What To Do

  1. Send An Unsubscribe Or Ignore The Email. Email the company sending you the email and ask them to unsubscribe or take you off their list. Point out that they have sent you spam emails and ask them to desist. Explain you will report them for spamming if they continue to email you. Alternatively, ignore them.
  2. Report Them. People make mistakes so it's worth giving them the benefit of the doubt. Wait to see if they email you again. If they do, report them.
  3. Market Your Company Professionally. Make sure you follow the UK spam rules and market responsibly.

Reporting Spam

In order to report spam emails you'll need the internet header information from the email.

Most email programs have a method of acquiring this information. For example, if you use Microsoft Outlook 2003, right hand click the unopened email and select "options". You can then copy the information within the internet headers box.

To find your email program and how to access an email's internet header information see the mt knowledge base. You can also learn how to read an email internet header.

Once you have the internet header information:

  • Report the company to ICO.
  • You can sign up to SpamCop. SpamCop parses reported emails and sends warning information to the internet service provider responsible for hosting the services used by the spammer. SpamCop also uses the information to generate SpamCop's free blocking list.
  • Contact the company's web host. Use the Whois service to identify the hosting company.
  • Send a complaint email to the sender's ISP.
  • If the person is using a Gmail account you can report them. Microsoft Hotmail also have an spam email reporting facility.
  • If you can't find the information required to report someone sending spam emails, then you can use a complaint forwarding service such as Abuse.net who can help direct your complaint to the right place.

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