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  • Mar 15, 2023

Tech Talk with Jeff - To Unsubscribe or Not Unsubscribe? That is the Question.

Due to the CAN-SPAM Act from 2003, you have the right to unsubscribe from emails sent to you by businesses. They must remove you from their subscriber lists upon the request to do so.

We are all overburdened with emails, and this gives us a powerful tool to help quiet down the amount we receive.

Ah, but as usual, there is a downside. Isn't there always? This law is very useful with valid, ethical businesses who follow the rules. The problem is, there are plenty of businesses that pop up on the Internet that are not that way. In particular, scammers. They will send sales emails out to you using a list they purchase. When you decide, you do not want to receive an email anymore, you click on the unsubscribe link. In these cases, they may totally ignore your request. Clicking unsubscribe just tells them that this is a valid email address, and the email address is now worth a lot more money to the scammer because there really is a person on the other end ready to read whatever ad they send through.

The other angle is that they will unsubscribe you from that set of emails but will subscribe you to another whole series of emails that you did not ask for. Before you know it, your inbox is full of emails you don't want and can’t stop from coming in.

How to protect yourself?

  • Only click unsubscribe on emails from valid known businesses. Particularly ones you had originally subscribed to.
  • If you don't know the business or person who sent you the email, do not use the unsubscribe link. It may lead to far more emails that you do not want. Mark the email as spam so that your email program can direct those emails into your spam folder.

It would be great if this problem could be solved, but it won't be. No number of new laws will stop the unethical companies or scammers from taking advantage of this structure and trying to get you to buy or click on things you shouldn't. Keep in mind that these types of emails come from all over the world which means they can be from places where our laws and enforcement cannot touch or stop them.

Your only option is to understand what is going on and to protect yourself with as much knowledge as possible against the threats that constantly come your way from the Internet.

Be aware and be safe!

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