Question: I do all the right things to avoid spam, yet I still get a ton of it. How are spammers even getting my email address?
Short Tutorial/FAQ – How are spammers getting my email address?
Answer: Unfortunately, spammers have a variety of methods at their disposal to get email addresses. Here are some of the most common:
- Leaked Account Databases. Spammers can collect active email addresses by mining leaked databases from compromised organizations like Adobe, LinkedIn, and Snapchat.
- Email Address Lists. Legitimate businesses don't sell email address lists, but if a list gets into the hands of an unscrupulous actor, they'll have no problem selling it to spammers for a low price.
- Random Email Addresses. Spam costs very little to send, so spammers may start with a popular email service like Gmail and then generate combinations of common words and names as the username.
- "Crawl and Scrape" Programs. Any text on a webpage containing the @ character is fair game for robotic harvesting tools. Using this method, thousands of addresses can be collected within an hour.
- Dishonest Unsubscribe Newsletter Links. A spammer will send a false newsletter email that includes an "unsubscribe" link. When you click the link, you're confirming that a real person exists at your email address, which gets added to lists of valid addresses.
- Fake Sweepstakes Sites. Spammers can get your email address through a fake sweepstakes site. They might give away a small prize, but their primary goal is to gather your personal information and use it to spam you.
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