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How Spammers Obtain / Generate Email Addresses

Why was I spammed at my email address?

Identifying Fraudulent "phishing" email

When it comes to spammers, they go to great lengths to obtain the email addresses which they spam.

For instance, they may simply generate multiple email addresses at random, based on first and last name, and the concerned organization. Typically, they look at the pattern of email IDs used in the said organization (say Company Y may deploy a style such as First Name dot Last Name @ Y dot com as the default email address for all employees) and then generate email addresses accordingly, then sending out “email blasts”.

Then there are various online resources which they tap to obtain email addresses. For instance, you may have enlisted on an online directory which lists out email addresses of members; these spammers can then obtain email addresses such as yours in this fashion. Likewise, when you sign up on various sites, even though they may not expressly state that they give out / collect email addresses, some unscrupulous ones among them may actually do so. Under such circumstances, it is always advisable that you remain cautious. As an example, if blogs / websites ask you to sign up for notifications of postings, it is recommended that you exercise caution while complying – you never know if your email address would eventually be misused / subjected to spam messages.

Finally – perhaps one of the worst ways in existence is the fact that there are unscrupulous entities who work solely on generating / obtaining email addresses in this fashion, which they then SELL to spammers at a premium. So in essence, your email address becomes a “commodity” in the market, which is being bought and sold around. No doubt, law enforcement around the world is working very hard to stop all such malicious practices.

At your end, what you can control is the enlisting of your email address on public forums; as long as you can minimize that from happening that alone can be some relief from the ease with which spammers obtain your email address.

Some other steps you can take:

  1. Turn on junk filtering in your mailbox – that way at least such spam emails won’t come to your mailbox, instead going to the Spam folder, which means you won’t waste your time and attention on pointless emails. This kind of junk filtering can also be done at the server end in your organization such that they never get to your mailbox, not even your Spam folder.
  2. ISPs or Internet Service Providers also work closely on fighting spam since it ends up clogging their own bandwidth, thus affecting Internet speeds which they offer. Contacting your ISP could be of some help.

At our end, you can be assured beyond the smallest hint of doubt that we do not send out spam messages. Just in case you have any such occurrence, most likely from some other third party masquerading as us, report the instance to us and we will take appropriate action.

Finally, a very important aspect to bear in mind is that while reporting, whether to us (in case there is any undue correspondence which bears our name) or to other entities, make sure you send the original message as well. Only then can concerned authorities take appropriate action.

This can easily be done in any of the programs you might be using for email, such as your Outlook, including Outlook 2003 / 2007 or any other including webmail. There you can easily go to the concerned spam message and then ‘Forward’ it to the concerned authorities, thus including the original spam message, as well as any correspondence that you may send out separately.

This should include attachments as well. Remember that you do not have to click on attachments to see if they are malicious and only if they do turn out to be so, do you forward them / the correspondence, to concerned authorities. Even if you simply find things suspicious, do not hesitate to report them, without actually clicking or spending too much time and effort in investigation – that can be done by the concerned authorities.

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