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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  • identicon
    Michael Clark, 20 Feb 2006 @ 4:20am

    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).

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Michael Clark, 20 Feb 2006 @ 4:24am

      Doh! Re: constant contact

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

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Michael Greb, 20 Feb 2006 @ 4:43am

    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. Returnpath.com 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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Feb 2006 @ 5:49am

    From the returnpath website

    "Don't settle for just one email address for a customer. Most consumers have at least two email addresses we can make sure you have both."

    Ha!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Dave, 20 Feb 2006 @ 6:21am

    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:
    boozer+millertime@example.com
    So perhaps all Miller did was change that to boozer@example.com? That would be easy for someone to automate. I can't imagine that humans would be employed to find someone's new email address.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    lar3ry, 20 Feb 2006 @ 7:40am

    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?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    giafly, 20 Feb 2006 @ 8:23am

    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?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Feb 2006 @ 9:32am

    No Subject Given

    Whenever anyone wants my email, I just use a fake one such as bitch@slut.sex or moron@heywoodjablome.com. Who the hell uses their real email address!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Chris Maresca, 20 Feb 2006 @ 10:03am

    Mailinator

    I use www.mailinator.com

    It's a real address, so it works, and I usually use bogus information for the rest of the fields anyway...

    Chris.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      cosmic, 20 Feb 2006 @ 10:40am

      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. :)

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Tyler, 20 Feb 2006 @ 10:58am

        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.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Sean, 20 Feb 2006 @ 12:07pm

    Bugmenot.com

    http://www.bugmenot.com/ - A useful site that has information for websites that require you to register before accessing whatever content they offer.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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