Where Do Spam Traps Come From and How Do They Work?



Senior editor

Parul Saxena

Chief editor

Last updated: May 21, 2021

The only thing that is possibly flooding these days except for river banks is our mailbox. You know that, like it or not, they do find a way to your inbox and lay there cluttering and clouding the more important emails that need your attention. And our obvious next reaction is to having to delete them most of the times before we actually reach to the one which we want to read.

Lots of organizations these days have opted for spam traps. Spam their mailing servers and the concerned email id is reported. Now, most of them use an alternate email id that is generally not used by any user. It is a spam trap. It may not actively be used but is actively monitored and when mail from an unwanted source pops in, they are reported immediately. The outcome – the mailing server gets blacklisted and now, the source has to find a new id to go about their business online.

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The burning question is how do these spam traps work? What are the best ways to be careful when you are dealing with your business online? Are they so active that it will be difficult to actually run a business mailing list without being under the constant stress of having to save the business from the internet?

There are some factors that you need to be aware of to ensure that your business or business mailing list doesn’t fall trap to such impending dangers of doing online business. What with businesses that have gone online in all business models, the ones who clearly get impacted are the ones who are running small to medium size of business.

All You Need To Know About Spam Traps

1. Typo in the email address

Many upcoming and small businesses need more contacts and customers to grow. And so, if there is an announcement that the business is having a special discount and sale running, customers will willingly sign up for the mailing list for the new ventures. So, it becomes very crucial to have a proper email address along with the precise email signature. A simple example of email address spam has been stated below.

For instance, Anita has started a new clothesline and has a blowout sale for the first hundred customers to visit the store and sign up for new collections; Anita gets a list of customers to share their email address. She quickly feeds in the names into her mailing list. However, while adding Dean’s address, she adds dean@fliptumble.com instead of dean@fliptumblr.com.

Now, dean@fliptumble.com is a spam trap. Though it was an accident, an email goes from Anita’s mailing server to fliptumble.com and they report the delivering email address. Technically, they didn’t sign up for the email from Anita’s business and so within rights, they can park it as spam.

The result – Anita’s account is blocked and she is no more able to use the account through which she had created the business list.

2. Expired Domains

Here it happens in most of the cases. There is an email address with a person’s name. The emails are received. But fine morning, the person is no longer working with the organization. The spammers don’t know that. And they keep flooding the inbox with e-mails.

Organization gets fed up with the way the spammers are continuing to flood the mailing servers. So, they decide they would convert it into spam-trap. Anyway, legitimate emails would have long stopped since the person left the job. In such cases, many organizations convert such unused email addresses as spam traps and use it as a counter-attack to get rid of spammers. Spammers generally never curate their lists of people and hence, their account is generally traced back and shut down.

When the mails would have started bouncing, domain expire is treated as a soft bounce in case there are reasons for reactivating the email address. However, software companies wait long enough if required just to ensure that the email address has actually stopped working.

3. Purchasing Mailing Lists

So, Anita has started a new venture and she thinks that everyone should know about it. Unfortunately, few people signed up for it and so she decides that she would go to an online listing agency and purchases a list of addresses. And then, she designs her own customized emails and sends them off.

And that ended the story.

Anita’s account gets shut down. Because it was an online purchased list, some of them turned out to be spam traps and got her account blacklisted and so, the account got locked off.  This is one of the so many threats of having purchased an online list. So, newbies – beware!

Out of the so many types of spam-traps that go around in the online business, each is distinct in their own way. They generally end up in your mailing list through other business references, co-registration or purchased listings.

How worse can it get?

Well, it is tough to predict but there are chances that the mailing list you have on you might be not completely spam-trap-free. The worst that can happen is that some organization running a trap will enlist your domain name as a blacklist. The maximum it gets to is that the IP address gets traced and blocked.

So, the obvious question that you have is – how many are considered as bad? For instance, one mail in one million lists of emails is not a bad thing. Of course, the ones who are receiving your mail don’t know whether you are sending it to a hundred people or a hundred thousand of them. 

Spam-Traps however, indicate a pregnant problem. This simply indicates that you need to go through the list of addresses you are having in your hand and carefully remove any addresses that are not being used or curate your list to ensure that unused or old email-ids are removed. It’s a good habit to review the addresses you have to ensure that most of them are going to an address that has opted to receive e-mail from your business.

Best Ways to save yourself?

There is no best way; you can keep a clean list. However, you can keep reviewing the list that you have to ensure there is no trouble in your paradise. 

Keep an eye out for emails that are getting bounced since few times. There are fair chances that the email address from that domain has been deactivated or is no more in use.

And the best way indeed is to ensure that you don’t purchase a list. Honestly, you are not going anywhere if you are trying to sell your business to strangers or worse, stranger email ids of non-existent people. Instead of it acting as a boon, it will become a bane after which there will be very little you will be able to do.

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