Thoughts & news on technology…well, mostly

Companies that sell your email address

I stumbled upon a post on Eric Lundt’s blog (co-founder & CTO of FeedBurner) where he listed a handful of companies that have sold his email addy without his consent. Since we all HATE spammers and those that sell our email addresses, I thought I’d pass along Eric’s findings:

  • Datek, which merged with Ameritrade in 2002 and is now TD Ameritrade
  • United Airlines. I’ve created multiple email addresses for United and received spam on all of them
  • Micro Center, the electronic store
  • Vindigo. I no longer use their service.
  • Network Solutions. That gives you confidence, eh?
  • 1-800-Flowers

I started to do the same thing about 6 months ago: I create a specific email address for each company I give it to, which allows me to identify which companies are selling my email addy to the f’ing spammers (I highly recommend doing the same). Sometimes, I get lazy and don’t feel like creating a new address when I’m in the middle of registering with a website. During these times, I provide my generic ‘spammable’ email.

In the past 6 or so months, the only company that has sold my address is:

  • Accuquote (they aggregate quotes from various life insurance companies)

Feel free to post a comment if other companies have sold your email address.

Btw, if you’re already getting spammed on your primary email account, check out my previous post on ‘How to stop spam email.’


Filed under: Email, Spam

2 Responses

  1. Mad Finn says:

    It’s not necessarily the companies selling the Email addresses.

    The other alternative is that their “email marketing partner” (aka spammer) is repurposing the mailing list and spamming it for other clients of theirs. The “email marketing” industry is filled with dirtbags and downright criminals (Eddie Marin…a convicted cocaine dealer, Alan Ralsky…convicted for check fraud), I am not surprised by anything they do.

    The third alternative is what’s called “Hacker X defense”. It’s the “dog ate my homework” equivalent of spammers. The crust of this defense is that the mysterious “Hacker X” somehow hacked into the customer records of the company and is now spamming the list. 99.9% of the time this is, of course, complete bullshit.

    There all all other kinds of execuses, but none of it really matters. Whether it’s spam-by-proxy or whatever, it’s still spam and someone at the company you gave your email address to has failed to protect your data.

    BTW, the biggest corporate spammer in the world is Gevalia / Kraft. They’ve been at it for a decade or so and claim plausible deniability by accusing their email marketing partners’ sub-contractors for any “accidental” spamming.

  2. koolio says:

    That’s a very good clarification, Mad Finn, and I concur. However, regardless of how their email addresses were sold/spammed/stolen/etc., the customers will still think, ‘XYZ company sold my email address to the spammers.’ The onus is on the companies to ensure their customer’s data is secured and kept private.

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