How Do Spammers Get My Email Address? And What Can I Do to Stop Them?

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Spammers can get hold of your email address in a number of different ways. Years ago, they would download web pages (in much the same way as Google does) and their computer program would look for things that appeared to be email addresses.

Once that started happening on a reasonably regular basis, webmasters took steps to reduce the problem or at least make the spammers computer have to do more work to figure out the email address if it was still shown on the page.

More recently, the email address isn’t shown on the site at all – it’s hidden behind the contact form, deep inside WordPress or whatever else is running the site.

But that hasn’t stopped the spammers!

After all, if your business revolved around sending millions of unsolicited emails to people who’ve never heard of you, you probably wouldn’t care about how you found those email addresses.

And you’d probably be looking for a less time consuming way of finding those addresses without the bother of having to visit websites and find pages that contained usable addresses.

It’s that last step that has meant that simply hiding email addresses on your website doesn’t work.

Spammers can get access to lists of domains. And most domains have email addresses associated with them.

And those sneaky people who enjoy sending spam to your inbox, offering all sorts of improbably but enticing things, know the most likely options that are commonly used before your domain name.

Options such as info, sales, support and a few others.

So, to answer the second question, one thing you can do to stop a large proportion of that kind of spam is to not use generic email addresses.

Simply making that change will reduce the amount of unsolicited email that gets sent to you, especially if your control panel is set to bounce those emails back to the person who sent them.

Of course, you also run the risk that genuine customers will use an email address that you’ve decided you don’t want to use. So you may need to send an email reply telling them that the email they’ve used hasn’t been received – not necessarily the best thing for a customer to receive, always assuming that their email filters don’t decide that your reply wasn’t genuine.

But if you can live with those limitations, that can be a good way to at least reduce the amount of junk you get in your inbox.

But before you get too excited, it still won’t stop all of it though.

Because there are also “dictionary attacks” on domain names. Spammers have access to lists of names and even just computers that will create random mixes of letters and numbers (remember, they don’t care, there’s no postage to pay on emails).

Those are only stoppable with systems that filter out likely spam messages. Or, more correctly, not stoppable but hidden from sight.

Major suppliers like Google do this as do a number of other internet service providers and website hosts.

It works well until an email you want gets caught up in the system, which can happen as computers aren’t infallible. Then, at best, you get a phone call asking why you haven’t replied to an email.

You need to decide whether or not that’s an acceptable solution for your company or whether the annoyance of pressing the delete key a few more times is offset by not having to deal with irate customers.

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