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Why You Shouldn't "Unsubscribe" From Spam

By the looks of my inbox, I must be in need of a cheap doggy harness, free cigars, printer ink and millionaire sugar daddy to marry. After years of a spam-free inbox, something changed in the last few months. Somehow, a spammer got my email. Then he told two friends, they told two friends, and so on, and …well, there goes the inbox.

My instinct to click on that little appealing ‘UNSUBSCRIBE” feature at the bottom of all the junk emails is apparently the last thing I should do.

"Don't unsubscribe...Never ever, " said Steve Filipiak.

He should know. He did it and now regrets it.

A few years ago, Filipiak said he would have 100 junk emails in his inbox by lunchtime. He got so sick of it, he decided to unsubscribe, and loaded as his name two words we really can’t repeat in this column.

"I was so frustrated that for the first name I put [expletive] and the second name I put "You," he recalled.

So was he unsubscribed? Quite the opposite.

"And the next day I got email, Dear [Expletive] You."

When that part of Filipiaks’ story was published in a Wall Street Journal article, he says the spammers not only found him, they buried him.

"Oh thousands! Yeah, they were just coming in. You could watch them pop in one after the other," he said.

For this report, we interviewed an expert who knows all about the guys on the other side of the spam emails. Marc Maiffret is a former hacker who was once profiled on reality TV for his years as a teenage hacker. These days he works for the other side as a security consultant, and tells his clients never to click unsubscribe if they do not know the sender.

"It’s the wrong instinct cause of what ends up happening," Maiffret said. "As soon as you hit unsubscribe, you're essentially saying x, y, z email address that had received it ... is active, there's actually somebody there."

Before you answer, in most cases the spammers are just guessing at email addresses. Fill out the ‘unsubscribe” line, and the guesswork is over: they know they have a live one.


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News 3 years ago



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