Powered by Movable Type 3.121
Home The Book Training Events Tools Stats
Web log archive.
A Dispatch

« Sears Card Phishing | Main | Phony Microsoft Update du Jour »

December 02, 2009

Why I Never Unsubscribe

I was reminded today why I never unsubscribe from any list or newsletter to which I do not explicitly remember subscribing.

I'm not sure exactly what product the spam message was selling, although with a Subject: line of Wang up!, it doesn't take much imagination to figure out the category. The product pitch was presumably in a downloadable image that I chose not to download (the image file had a code-like name that could conceivably be linked to the recipient address — a risk I didn't want to take).

Under the image space were five small-type links labeled:

Subscribe  Unsubscribe  Send to a Friend  Preferences  Report Spam

Rolling over those links revealed that they all pointed to the top level of the same website linked from the image (also coded to act as a link). In other words, the separately-named links did not go to specific pages within a web site — just to the home page.

Then came the kicker. In gray type was the following:

You are receiving this communication because you subscribed [removed]@[removed].com at our site. If for any reason you wish to stop receiving this communication, click on this Unsubscribe link [not coded as a link]. This will create a new email that contains your unsubscribe request. Please send that email to us, and we will reply back confirming the completion of your unsubscription request.

This message was addressed to a role account at one of my domains, and that was the address from which this message tells me I had subscribed. The role account (things like "postmaster" and "abuse") was one that I have never used for any purpose from any domain in all 14 years I've been hosting my own sites. At some time in the past, the address was made up by a spammer, and it has been circulating here and there among spam runs ever since. The assertion in the unsubscribe advisory is an outright lie.

Spammers lying about you having subscribed to their mailing lists has been going on for years and years. If you get in a huff and go the email equivalent of "postal" on them for continuing to email to you, you are wasting your time, and simply assuring that your email address is added to more lists in perpetuity. Like it or not, the instant your email address gets on a spam list, that address is hosed. If you want to hang onto that address, the best you can do is slow further spread by not letting the spammer know that you or your address is alive.

Posted on December 02, 2009 at 02:51 PM