Spam Violation?

Dear Email Diva,

I have received emails from a specific sender on behalf of several different companies. I have no prior relationship with the companies and am given a negative option to opt out (if I don't opt out, they will presume I want to hear from them again).

1.) Is there a way to see if this sender has been blacklisted anywhere?
2.) How does a spammer like this deal with the invariable SpamCop, et al., reports?
3.) Are public perceptions of this type of unsolicited emails changing?

We've counseled our clients against this practice, and wonder about the occasional emails we receive that seem to flout it.

Agency Guy

Dear Agency Guy,

1.) To see whether the sender has been blacklisted, first find out the sender's IP. This handy site tells how. Then go to the leading blacklist compilers and services and see what you find. Here are a few of the big names.
Iron Port

2.) As I learned from a former spammer who had crossed over from the dark side, servers are cheap. If you are a dedicated spammer and get shut down on one server, you simply send from another.

3.) Yes, public perception is changing. As Deborah Fallows of the Pew Internet & American Life Project reports, "The volume of spam is growing in Americans' personal and workplace email accounts, but email users are less bothered by it."

The email you received, however, was not technically spam. Here is the Federal Trade Commission's summary of the law's provisions:
" It bans false or misleading header information.
" It prohibits deceptive subject lines.
" It requires that your email give recipients an opt-out method.
" It requires that commercial email be identified as an advertisement and include the sender's valid physical postal address.

It is a good that your firm counsels clients against this type of non-permission-based email. Because while the public is getting used to and better at dealing with spam, Fallows finds that "some 55% of email users say they have lost trust in email because of spam."

For the sake of the industry, I wish you and your agency,

Good Luck!



The Email Diva

Send your questions or submit your email for critique to Melinda Krueger, the Email Diva, at All submissions may be published; please indicate if you would like your name or company name withheld.

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