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What Are Unsolicited Emails? (How They Are Classifies & How to Stop Them)

Unsolicited emails are an unpleasantness that everyone on the internet has to deal with. Learn here how to stop them from filling up your email inbox.

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What Are Unsolicited Emails

Unsolicited emails have been a problem for decades. Also known as spam emails, these are emails that are sent to recipients who did not request or consent to receive them. These emails are often sent in bulk, and may contain advertising or promotional content that the recipient did not ask for.

Spam emails have been around since the late 1970s, when email became a popular means of communication. The first known spam email was sent in 1978 by a marketer named Gary Thuerk, who was promoting a new computer system to a list of potential customers. In the years that followed, the number of spam emails increased dramatically as marketers began to realize the potential of email as a cheap and efficient way to reach large numbers of people.

As the practice has grown and evolved over the decades, it’s become more intricate and, in many ways, more annoying. Let’s explore what you can do to eliminate spam emails from your inbox and prevent more from showing up in the future.

Are Unsolicited Emails Illegal?

Unsolicited emails are considered to be a form of online harassment, as they can be intrusive and unwanted. In addition to being annoying, they can also be dangerous, as they may contain links to malicious websites or attachments that contain viruses or malware. 

That’s why many internet safety tips involve never opening an email from someone you don’t know or emails which display spammy tendencies. It’s not only an inconvenience if you do; it could seriously damage your computer or phone, and may lead to harmful data breaches, such as stolen contact and bank information. 

In many countries, sending unsolicited emails is illegal, and businesses can face fines or legal action for violating anti-spam laws. For example, in the United States, the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 requires commercial email messages to include certain information, such as a valid physical address, and prohibits deceptive subject lines and false headers. The act also gives recipients the right to opt-out of receiving future emails. To enforce this, it imposes penalties on violators.

For this reason, businesses must obtain explicit consent from recipients before sending marketing emails. This is not only a wise business practice for establishing yourself as a trusted and legitimate business; it’s also the law. As such, among their obligations is to provide a clear and easy way for recipients to unsubscribe from future emails.

Why Unsolicited Emails Are So Unwanted

Spam emails are considered to be extremely annoying, so much so that even when marketers send valuable content to a recipient, it still might get marked as spam just because the recipient wasn’t interested in receiving the email.

Spam emails are considered to be unwanted and intrusive, as recipients may feel that their privacy has been violated and may view the sender as unprofessional or annoying. They may develop a negative view of the brand or sender of the email, and have difficulty trusting the business to send more emails in the future.

Spam emails can also be a big waste of effort, as they require the recipient to take time to open and sort through them, often finding that the content is irrelevant or even harmful in the end.

Spam emails are often used by shady marketers with the intent to deceive them. They use fake sender names, misleading subject lines, and other tactics to trick the recipient into opening them, since they did not build their email list using professional, well-established email marketing practices. Because of this deception, many recipients are rightfully fearful of spam emails that contain malware, viruses, or phishing attempts that compromise their computer or personal information.

What Is Considered An Unsolicited Email?

Any type of email that the recipient did not ask to receive is an unsolicited email. With that said, emails can be viewed as spam for different reasons, such as:

  • Misleading subject lines: Emails with subject lines that are deceptive, misleading, or designed to trick recipients into opening them can be considered spam.
  • Poor content: Emails that contain poor-quality content, including irrelevant or low-value information, excessive advertising, or excessive use of capital letters, are usually considered spam.
  • Phishing emails: Emails that attempt to trick recipients into revealing personal or sensitive information, such as passwords or credit card numbers, are considered spam.
  • Emails without an unsubscribe option: Emails that do not include a clear and easy way for recipients to unsubscribe from future emails are illegal under CAN-SPAM Act laws and are considered spam.

How Do You Report Spam?

If you are receiving a high number of spam emails, there are several things you can do to report it, such as:

  • Mark the email as spam: Most email providers like Gmail and Outlook have a feature that allows you to mark emails as spam. This helps the email provider identify similar emails as spam in the future and move them to the spam or junk folder automatically.
  • Report to your email provider: If you are receiving a lot of spam emails, you can report them to your email provider directly. Most email providers have a way to easily report spam, such as a “Report Spam” button. Reporting spam to your email provider helps them improve their spam filters for you and for others.
  • Report to authorities: If you receive a spam email that is fraudulent or contains illegal content, such as phishing attempts, you can report it to the appropriate authorities. In the United States, you can report spam emails to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) by forwarding the email to “[email protected]”.
  • Use third-party tools: There are several third-party tools that can help you report and block spam emails, like SpamCop and Abusix.

How to Stop Receiving Spam Emails

Reporting and blocking incoming spam can help you get rid of spam from particular senders, but what can you do if you keep getting sent unsolicited emails from different sources? Aside from following the above steps, you can stop your email address from being a spam hotspot by:

  • Not responding to spam emails: Responding to spam emails in any way, even to ask to be removed from the mailing list, can actually confirm to spammers that your email address is active and lead to even more spam.
  • Using a spam filter: Most email providers have built-in spam filters that can be enabled to automatically detect and move spam emails to a spam or junk folder. Make sure your spam filter is turned on and configured to your liking.
  • Being careful about where you share your email address: Avoid sharing your email address on public forums or websites you don’t trust. This can help reduce the likelihood of your email address being harvested by spammers.
  • Using a separate email address for sign-ups: Consider using a separate or temporary email address when signing up for newsletters or other online services.

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