Who put a Spam Trap in My Permission Based Email List?

Is your legitimate email being blacklisted because you picked up a spam trap address in your subscriber base?  What is a Spam Trap and what can you do about it. Where did it originate from and how can you stop them?

What is a Spam Trap?

Spam traps are secret, non-published email addresses that catch some list owners by surprise.  A Spam-Trap is a valid email address, used specifically to trap unsolicited email or spammers; hence the name Spam Trap  The Spam Trap premise is based on the belief that if the owner or former owner of an inactive email address has not checked email for a quite a while, why are you still sending email to this address?

Spam traps are used by many different organizations and can be created or designed as needed, usually from an inactive email account or an inactive domain.  To be effective, the address in question must be inactive for a considerable amount of time.

Frequent spam trap sources are those old email addresses that may have been used long ago, to post to Usenet or those addresses used as a function email addresses such at webmast@ and president@.  In other instances, addresses with a period of invalidity can be recycled as spam traps as well as email addresses that have never been used by a live person.

Who Uses Spam Traps?

Many organizations use spam traps, such as large ISP’s like AOL, companies that offer spam filters and organizations that specialize in email reputation.  Void of rules or regulations, organizations interpret spam trap information with charts, formulas and WAGs to block incoming emails based on their own understanding and methodology.

Spam Traps – The Blacklist Guaranty

The Blacklist guaranty – send a newsletter with a spam trap and you will be blocked or blacklisted in no time. This block may take the form of a permanent block on your sending IP Address; your future messages will not be delivered until you remove the spam trap address.  With your tarnished reputation and spammer label, no doubt you will become familiar with Blacklist reporting agencies like SpamCop and the Passive Spam Block List who will continue to keep you on their Blacklist until you resolve the spam trap issue.

Who put a Spam Trap in My Permission Based Email List?

A spam trap can be added to your list unknowingly by:

  1. Not using confirmed opted-in and other permission based maintenance
  2. Harvesting addresses
  3. Purchasing email addresses
  4. Renting email addresses
  5. Using an email Append service
  6. Deliberately added to your list
  7. Using an old list

How to Remove Spam Traps

Avoid spam traps.  Spam traps are near to impossible to remove and the reporting ISP, SPAMCop for example, will unlikely tell you which address to remove to get yourself off their Blacklist.  

You could reconfirm your list of subscribers and once again require them to confirm their subscription to your email newsletter.  You will lose subscribers because of the process and an a required action they have to take.

If reconfirming all your subscribers seems a little daunting, you may be able to identify a clean, free from spam trap address segment, from  part of the offending list (i.e. join date for example) that you can eliminate from the reconfirm process, thereby narrowing your losses from those who will not reconfirm.

In summary, removing a spam trap is a difficult task, and you may not be successful unless you reconfirm your list.  The better solution: make sure these offending address stay off your mailing lists altogether by following Safe Mailing Practices and not following the Worse Email Practices for List Management.