Hunting Down The Real Emails Of Those Who Use Junk Addresses?

from the that-doesn't-seem-right dept

It’s pretty common, at this point, for most people to have their “junk email” address. That’s the email address you use whenever you have to register for anything online. You know it’s going to get spammed, but you rarely check it, or once it gets too bad, you just ignore it completely and get another junk email address to use instead. Simple enough. If marketers were smart (stop laughing), they’d recognize just how little value someone’s email address is for this very reason. Instead, we see them doing things like setting up tradeoffs if you choose to not let them spam you. However, it would appear that Miller Brewing has gone one step further, if a post on Boing Boing is to be believed. According to that post, someone who used a junk email address to register for something having to do with the beer company, later received an email at their regular email address, saying that Miller couldn’t reach them at the old email address, so they had tracked the person down, and changed the email address for them. In other words, there may actually be people associated with Miller Brewing trying to hunt down your real email address, if you ever gave them a junk one. They then provide an opt-out if the person doesn’t want to keep receiving messages. It would be nice if there were a little more evidence that this was happening for real — but, if it’s true, then it’s more ridiculous marketer short-sightedness, designed more to harm a brand in the long run. Update: Brian McWilliams has some more details on what’s going on here. Apparently, Equifax used to have a spamming operation, which they claimed they shut down right before CAN SPAM went into effect… however, this seems to be associated with the domains owned by that company. Remember, this is the same Equifax who recently said it was un-American for you to know what Equifax knew about you.

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Comments on “Hunting Down The Real Emails Of Those Who Use Junk Addresses?”

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Michael Clark (user link) says:

constant contact

Constant contact is shown as the “from” address in the screen shot attached to the original article. Contact contact is a service similar to “plaxo.” I give constant contact a high SpamAssassin score because CC doesn’t require their customers to use confirmed opt-in lists. They are definitely an opt-out spam support site. Ugh, I hate them. (Disclaimer: speaking only for myself, my personal opinion, blah, blah blah).

Michael Clark (user link) says:

Re: Doh! constant contact

Doh! My bad, It was “” not Constant contact. My fault. Feel free to delete my original comment, if you can. doesn’t even have a web site. Apparently is owned by equifax (according to whois records). Ugh, great now your credit reports can be screwed up with multiple email addresses now too.

Michael Greb says:

epending happens all the time

Epending is a service offered by many spam companies. It takes several forms. One is allowing a bussiness with other data about you to provide that data to the service and get back an email address for you, even though you never provided that business with an email address. Another form of epending is associating multiple email addresses with an individual.
There are many companies that provide such services. is one of these companies, though they are slightly less sneaky then the competition. Take a look at the left side of their landing page. They are also the company that gets your email addresses if you fill in and old and new address on the USPS change of address form as well as having data submitted via various websites. Some website forms across the net that ask for email address for marketing purposes will also contain a field for old email addresses with the Return Path logo next to it.

Dave says:

Most likely

A lot of mail servers allow you to create unique email addresses by adding a plus sign to the name and then any string you want, like this:
So perhaps all Miller did was change that to That would be easy for someone to automate. I can’t imagine that humans would be employed to find someone’s new email address.

lar3ry says:

Probably a misunderstanding

I saw this when it was reported on Digg.

From looking at the story then, my only conclusion was that the person that reported this actually reads their SPAM email. Spammers are notorious for lying. Why bother reading it?

I’m not personally going to lose any sleep that there might be some dumb lackies working to track every participant in a sweepstakes in order to make their lives miserable.

If the email looks like SPAM and is from somebody I have no interest in dealing with, it will get tossed into my Junk folder and my bayesian filter will do all the work–I’ll never see another message from them again.

So… what’s the big deal?

giafly says:

I've done this

…for about five people, when one of our forms had a bug and only stored some of the data that users were typing. Starting from users’ names and street addresses (not even post codes or counties), I managed to track down all their email addresses in a few minutes.

But I think it’s too expensive for spammers – don’t they pay less than one cent per new address?

cosmic says:

Re: Mailinator

I think the moral of the story is simple. If you don’t trust a company enough to give them your email address, why would you trust them with ANY of your information? Wouldn’t it be simpler to just use fictitious information throughout? I would love for a company to find my alterego name, Strider Hiryu who lives in Neverland. 🙂

Tyler (user link) says:

Re: Re: Mailinator

I think the main thing is there are always those amusing “free” things you can get online, but you have to sign up for them to get your free stuff. In turn, you’ll get more and more spam.
I used to sign up for free stuff online. Before I knew it, I was getting slammed by spam. I just have to rely on Spam Assasin now.

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