General Question

whitecarnations's avatar

Is there a government site where I can report spammers e-mails?

Asked by whitecarnations (1635 points ) March 13th, 2012

I’m sick of spammers. Question 1. Are there officials in the U.S. or an international agency who cracks down on spammers if I send them spammers e-mails? I know I have the report spam on G-Mail, but I don’t know if they actually investigate or what?

Question 2. How does Google personally handle reported spam e-mail anyhow?

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11 Answers

Nullo's avatar

So far as I can tell, there’s not much that they can do about spammers. Most e-mail providers have a spam filter that blocks suspected addresses. When you report spam, you create a new entry for the filter.

Response moderated (Writing Standards)
seekingwolf's avatar

Do what I do. Screw with the spammer and get his hopes up that you actually give a crap about him, just long enough to get more info, like address, phone, and even IP. Then report.

SmashTheState's avatar

Most (90%+) of the email spam comes from just five individuals. Almost all the spam in existence now uses botnets, which makes reporting spam pointless. The people whose computers are being used to send the spam aren’t even aware they’re doing it. Of the tiny percentage which do not come from zombie computers linked to botnets, almost all the rest are throwaway accounts purchased with stolen credit cards.

The only way to hurt the spammer is to go after their hosted sites, and that’s next to impossible thanks to “bulletproof hosting” in places like China and Russia, and the sociopathic scum at the big backbone providers in the US who give them connectivity through what are called “pink contracts,” which are secret agreemets which permit spamming. Spamming is in the interest of the backbone providers because it burns up huge amounts of bandwidth… off which they turn a profit.

In short, there is absolutely nothing you can do about spam. It could have been stopped a decade ago had the politicians acted quickly, but they were bought and paid for by the Direct Marketing Association for peanuts. If you look at the pay-offs – all open and above board – by the DMA, they entrenched spamming at a cost of a few tens of thousands of dollars in the pockets of the politicians.

@seekingwolf Unless you want a spam tsunami, never, ever respond to a spammer in any way. Any response of any kind means your address gets put on lists of “guaranteed active” accounts which sell for a premium to spammers.

gambitking's avatar

@SmashTheState , a lot of what you say is relatively accurate, but there is actually a lot more spam than just the botnets. Sure, those botnets account for a lot of malicious activity, including phishing spam, scams, and the like. Not to mention affiliate marketing, spyware, hacking and cracking… but for spam, it’s far more widespread than that. That being said, you’re right that there’s really nothing we can do about it and that seekingwolf’s suggestions are ill advised due to the reasoning you cited.

However, I’ve seen all angles of the digital marketing industry, and there are thousands upon thousands of individuals and entities aside from malicious botnets that spam people every day. I also do know that the FTC does enforce anti-spam policy in many cases, just that so few people actually take the initiative to do something about it or even report it.

We’re all desensitized to it.

Also, look for ways to unsubscribe AND send a complaint, if the option is available. Most spammers send mass emails using an email marketing company. Email marketing companies like iContact and MailChimp are always under the gun to hold their users accountable if they spam people, and they will help enforce spamming policies and laws against their users to save themselves from being held accountable.

SmashTheState's avatar

@gambitking The advice you’ve given is incorrect and dangerous. NEVER, under ANY circumstances, “unsubscribe” or have any contact whatsoever with a spammer. They are often linked to organized crime, and ANY contact will simply confirm that your email address is active. You will then receive much, much more spam, and potentially be subjected to targetted phishing attacks. I have been an anti-spam activist for more than a decade, maintained the spam desk at my ISP, and wrote the Anti-Spam Jargon List referenced in several published books. I know what I’m talking about.

Unless you know how to read an email header and know how to tell the difference between an unsecured proxy, a botnet zombie, and a throwaway account, sending a complaint is worse than useless, since you’ll be compounding the wasted bandwidth of the initial spam with a complaint which wastes the time and bandwidth of an entirely innocent party. Furthermore, even if you were an expert at interpreting email headers, and even if you were able to determine that the spam wasn’t set through a botnet or proxy (or both), most of the professional spammers have complex schemes in which they are their own service providers, so that complaints end up in their own inboxes, thus providing them with a list of confirmed email addresses.

YARNLADY's avatar

@SmashTheState You are correct. Clicking on any part of spam results in more spam by confirming your address, especially the unsubscribe link. Anyone who responds to any of this garbage is benefiting the perpetrator.

whitecarnations's avatar

It should be reported. It’s still recorded in history and can help investigators. Bandwidth was meant to be used.

PhiNotPi's avatar

The way I avoid spam is to set up two email accounts, a primary one for personal stuff and a second one that you are willing to give out to any website that wants an email address. My personal email account has received exactly 1 piece of spam in however many years that I have had it. As for my other account, I haven’t checked on it for months, and I don’t really care what is in it.

SmashTheState's avatar

To follow up to @PhiNotPi, there’s a sneaky way to figure out who has been selling your email address to the spammers.

Assuming your email address is address@example.ccom (.com is deliberately misspelled so that spambots trolling for email addresses won’t be burdening the real example ddott com with misaddressed spam), you can add a + and anything you like after address. It will be ignored by your email server. For example, address+anything@example.ccom will arrive at address@example.ccom. Using this method, you can track which places have been selling your email address to spammers by adding a code word when you submit it. If you’re signing up to Fluther, for example, you would use address+fluther@example.ccom. If you start getting spam addressed to address+fluther@example.com, you would know Fluther sold your address to spammers.

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