How to deal with chain letters, finding state spam laws, and whether to reply to spammers: Internet ScamBusters #52
This month we've got some interesting new resources for you about chain letters and some surprising new info on dealing with spam.
So, let's get started...
Internet ScamBusters Snippets
Break The Chain
E-mail programs are a dream come true for senders of chain letters. With just one click they can send their annoying messages to literally dozens more people who then send it to scores more. It's the fastest way for con-artists to advertise their schemes.
Break The Chain gives a comprehensive overview of chain letters and explains why the recycle bin is the only place to send them.
Spam Laws State-by-State
The Spam Laws Web site lists spam-related legislation by state and by country. Unless you have a law degree, you'll probably want to check out the Summary of state spam laws, which spells out the meaning of spam laws for each state in plain English.
Replying to Spammers
Should you reply to spam and follow the unsubscribe instructions (if there are any)?
For the last few years, accepted wisdom has held that clicking the unsubscribe link at the bottom of a spam mail simply lets the spammer know that your email address is active. As a result, they send you even more spam.
In fact, the risks might be smaller than the rewards.
A recent article by Joanna Glasner in Wired magazine describes an experiment by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission. Researchers at the Commission replied to 215 spam emails asking to be removed from their mailing lists.
The results? According to Charles Harwood, the FTC's Northwest regional director, "There is no evidence that submitting a remove request resulted in us getting more spam."
The FTC found that two-thirds of their requests were simply routed to addresses that had either never existed or were no longer in use. Often, says the article, that's because the address has already been closed by the service provider following complaints from users.
Whether the remaining active addresses produced more spam, however, was inconclusive.
The FTC encourages people to report spam to the spammer's ISP and to government agencies that collect complaints.
(Incidentally, all the spammers with non-functioning return addresses received letters from the FTC. The letters informed them that they were in breach of the laws concerning honesty in advertising. It would be interesting to know if anyone read them...)
You can read the article at:
One additional personal, interesting, and unscientific study by Bennett Haselton suggests that if the unsubscribe address is at a generic domain like Yahoo or Hotmail, chances are that your request will never be opened. On the other hand, if the site the spam mail is advertising has a quality domain, and the return address is within that domain, it's much more likely that the message will be read and may even be acted upon.
Only once did Bennett find that unsubscribing resulted in more spam.
Bennett's conclusion (which we agree with) is:
"So the risks of following the 'unsubscribe' instructions are minuscule, but the benefits of following the instructions are usually even more minuscule, so it's still probably not a good idea."