Protect your email address from spam, scams and other abuse

in Email Marketing

We’ve all experienced it – some dumb spam email shows up in your inbox and you wonder “where did this bozo get my email address?”. Email address harvesting is a major activity for spammers, scammers and other miscreants on the Internet. They send out electronic web crawlers or spambots that crawl websites, forums, search engines, newsgroups, blogs and every type of Internet property searching for email addresses. They generally search for the @ character and take the characters on either side of it as an email address, and you’re on their email list. These spammers share, buy and sell lists – once they’ve got you, there’s not much you can do other than have your spam filter remove these emails. Don’t try to unsubscribe from these lowlifes – you’re only confirming that it’s a live email address for them to keep using.

As you develop your online presence for Internet Marketing, there are many necessary requirements and opportunities to disclose your email address. The most common occurrence is putting your email address on your website or blog for people to contact you. Yes, you want people who are really interested in contacting you to be able to do so, but you’re also inviting spammers and others to harvest and abuse your email address. Here are 3 ways to enable people to contact you from your website while protecting your email address:

  1. Use a Contact Form – see the Contact page on this website as an example. I get the information from the form in my email inbox, but the address is not disclosed.
  2. Use JavaScript to decompose your email address – this code:

    will produce this on your website without disclosing your email address:
    Send an Email with questions, comments or suggestions about this website.
    Just replace “yourname” and “yourdomain” in the above JavaScript code with your email information.  If your domain is not .com, then change that in the code too.
  3. Use an email address obfuscator – there are various ways of doing this, the most common being substituting normal characters with HTML special characters so that yourname@yourdomain.com becomes:

    It will still appear as yourname@yourdomain.com in a browser, but the spambot only sees that string of obfuscated characters.
    Click here for a free online email HTML obfuscation service. But be careful which obfuscation service you use – some of them are fronts for spammers to capture your email address.

There are a bunch of paid email address protection services – I’m not convinced they do much more than the above approaches which you can do for free. If you have access to a professional web developer for your website, they may have more sophisticated methods to secure your email address.

The next most common occurrence is using your email address as a user name for a forum or website registration. Rather use an obscure username and only disclose your email address in the appropriate area if required.

Disclaimer: no method is completely foolproof or guarantees 100% protection, but taking some precaution is so much better than just letting the spammers and scammers have their way with your email address.

How to use this information to benefit your business

  • You want to do business and marketing online and not be bothered with increasing volumes of spam and other abuse.
  • Protecting your email address is relatively simple and keeps these miscreants of the Internet away from you and your business.

Copyright © 2009 Ingistics LLC and Marketance™ www.marketance.com

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