Originating with a small Monty Python sketch, the term Spam is no longer synonymous with an undesirable mystery meat in a blue tin can; it s become undesirable junk mail that clutters your email inbox, cellular phones and other electronic devices. If you don't construct your campaigns properly with your choice email marketing services, the newsletters you worked so hard on are going to end up in the junk mail folder.

The CAN-SPAM Act (Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography And Marketing Act of 2003) is a law passed by Congress and signed by President Bush in 2003, requiring national standards for sending commercial emails.

The CAN-SPAM Act was prompted by the overwhelming flood of Spam infiltrating people s email. During the 90 s inboxes were inundated with sexually explicit, misleading and deceptive email marketing campaigns selling everything from pornography to lawn furniture.

All legitimate email marketing services require their clients to abide by the rules laid out by the CAN-SPAM act. Violation of these rules is subject to fines up to $11,000. Many of these rules also apply to commercial marketers targeting cellular phones.

The act requires email marketers to include the following in email messages:

  • The subject line must clearly communicate the content included in the body of the email.
  • Emails cannot contain misleading  From  or  To  information. Domain names, email addresses and routing information needs to be correct.
  • There must be a way for customers to  unsubscribe  or  opt-out  from receiving messages. If a person opts-out the company has 10 days to stop sending them messages. This unsubscribe option needs to be available for at least 30 days after the email is sent.
  • All commercial emails must include a physical address.



Additional provisions included with the CAN-SPAM Act force email marketers to comply with the following or face criminal charges:

  • Email addresses need to be legitimately obtained. Addresses cannot be made up by combining common names, letters or numbers. Commonly called a  dictionary attack. 
  • Email messages cannot be sent to  harvested  email addresses. For example, addresses collected from forums or chat rooms are considered harvested lists. A popular, yet deceptive practice was to harvest email addresses then sell the list to legitimate companies.
  • Emails cannot be sent through a computer or network without permission.
  • Companies cannot use scripting or other automated ways to register multiple email addresses.
  • Commercial emails cannot be sent through another computer without authorization of the owner.
  • Companies cannot falsely represent themselves as owners of multiple IP addresses.

If you feel you are being targeted for Spam you can report the messages to the FTC (Federal Trade Commission.) And if worse comes  to worse change your email address.

It would be naive to think that Spam is going away anytime soon. However, to help reduce the amount of Spam you receive the FTC and FCC suggest:

  • If you open an unwanted message immediately unsubscribe, or send an  opt-out  message in response.
  • Always read the privacy policy before providing your email address or phone number online.
  • Perhaps use two email addresses. One for personal use and another for signing up for forums, newsgroups and online registration.
  • Create a unique and difficult to  dictionary attack  address, those with a combination of numbers and letters are harder to replicate.
  • Use the Spam filter provided by your antivirus software and your email client.
  • Place your phone number on the  Do Not Call  list.

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