no such thing as safe email?

as i type this, i get the feeling that it’s old and trite to bitch and whine about spam, that it’s been done to death, so, i’m sorry for this. but.

i have an email addy i have never ever put in a non-protected form in public. it’s less than a month old. it’s been used as a comment addy, but only in MT with spam-protect, and displayed in a page with a javascript that writes the link client-side, so unless the spambots are set to parse javascript commands as they crawl a page, that’s not it. can the bots do that? don’t know. this addy has been used to sign up for exactly one thing (a tracker) and that site has a privacy policy that seems clear enough, they claim they do not share email data.

so we have a virgin email address that has only been used in ways that are supposed to be safe.

and it’s getting spammed.

oh yeah. and another thing. my cell phone email address, which was used (other than just to send email) once, long ago, in a little form that would send me a text message and is no longer in use, is getting spammed. started very recently. my cell phone. spam. i’ve had to set it not to alert me when i get wireless emails.

i think i must be in a post-fun funk, because this is getting to me a little more than it really should. i mean, i’m pissed.

wasn’t it shakespeare who said, first, we kill all the spammers? wise man, that will.

21 thoughts on “no such thing as safe email?

  1. You have to pretty much learn to become one with the spam. Let the spam flow over you and splash off you as you laugh at it’s futility. The spam, like the traffic jam, will never end. So just gooooo with the flooooowwww.

  2. but. but. on my cell phone?

    oh. and the little form is apparently still in use, but it is setup in a javascript popup off this page, so to crawl the page, you would have to follow a javascript button.

    i was so pleased with that little form thingy. what a neat thing. spammers ruined it for me.

    ok, stacey, you’re very right, i’m stressing way beyond what i ought to, i’m probably suffering from a hops and grain deficiency. must go remedy that right away.

  3. I hate SPAM. Almost as much as I hate telemarketers. No offense to those of you who do it for a living, but I’m thinking a position behind the counter of McDonalds would be more respectable.

  4. That sucks! I was considering getting my phone web-enabled (because of course, I NEED to be connected in that 15 minute trip between home and work) but I’m absolutely not if there’s phonespam. Does anyone else get faxspam? I get at least 4 cheap cruise/work-at-home ones a day…paperwasters! pfffft!

  5. you know, i can’t be as charitable as you, Lee, to say ‘no offense to those of you who do this for a living’. i mean every offense to these people. i wish they would find honest work as, say, hookers. you know, something that people actually *want*. spammers can’t find a legit way to peddle their scams and lies and snake oil, so they resort to stealing the email addresses of people who are doing their best to protect them. it’s morally reprehensible.

    if i do everything in my power to make an email address available for legitimate use, and they do thier best to circumvent what i do to protect myself, that makes them thieves. if i used my cell phone email much, if i *needed* to use it, the spam would be stealing my minutes. they’re stealing my time and my bandwidth.

    i know there’s a lot worse things going on in the world today, this just has my attention right now.

  6. Very good points, kd. I hadn’t looked at it from that point of view, but you’re right. It is theft, and as such it should be illegal, especially when you consider it theft you can’t even protect yourself against without running the risk of missing out on something that is important. By that I mean if I enable my email box to immediately delete spam which I can, it may well delete the email of anyone who isn’t listed in my address book. Readers of my site or friends who have never written to me before would be included. It’s a chance I haven’t been willing to take either, so I am forced to tolerate up to 50 spam letters a day.

  7. Speaking as someone who did a stint as a telemarketer when I desperately needed the money? I think there’s a huge difference between working for a contractor for the phone company from which you buy your telephone service (and yes, you do default to ‘okay to call’ unless you tell them when you set up your phone service not to call) in calling someone to try to get them to do stuff like buy caller id and harvesting people’s email addresses for spam.

    Granted, I only did that for a two week span until I got another job, but I think I’d rather have done that than go out and stand on Water Street and fuck strangers for money. The telemarketers hired me and put me to work the same day for $9 an hour (seven years ago, mind you) while I was interviewing at other jobs. I got to eat and pay rent until the first paycheck from a ‘real’ job came in. I would have ended up without a place to live, likely, if I’d worked at McD’s — wouldn’t have made enough money.

    I have sympathy for telemarketers, because I see myself, desperate for cash and using the place as a holdover job, in their shoes. It doesn’t mean I do anything other than insist on being put on their ‘no call’ list and then hang up on them, and it doesn’t mean I answer calls on my cellphone from numbers I don’t recognize… but, ah… I’m going to stop now, because my hands are shaking, and they shouldn’t be, not from some offhanded comment on a blog, even if I like the person whose blog it is.

  8. ok now there is a HUGE difference between telemarketers and spam. i have telemarketed. it’s intrusive. it’s annoying. it’s a job, for the desperate, and you can make money.

    there aren’t innocent wage slaves in the spam business. there are highly technical people using extremely sophisticated methods to bypass preventative measures and harvest email addresses to sell for money.

    i should have been more specific — when i think spammers, i think the root cause of the problem — not necessarily the purchasers of the lists, though they have some fault — it’s the listmakers and the listsellers, who are the real evil here.

    and i have a very clean solution for avoiding telemarketers — i only use my cell phone. they’re not allowed to call. occasionally one picks up my number from somewhere, but when you tell them (in a testy voice) this is a private cell phone, they hang up and delete your number from that list. it’s illegal (so far) to telemarket cell phones.

    i have sacrificed my home number for this, but that works for me.

    however none of the things i have tried, have stopped the spammers.

  9. and another thing. you *can* get yourself put on ‘no call’ lists with telemarketers. you *can’t* do anything about spam. you can’t answer it, you can’t do anything but delete and delete.

    like i’ve said, it’s much, much different.

  10. And, for the most part, Spam is delivered by only about 6 people in the US who get solicited by marketing companies.

    Newsweek just did an expose on one guy in West Virginia sometime in the last month. He has something like 4 or 5 servers that he uses to route about a million messages today from his office to anonymous routers in other countries and then to the addresses he stores.

    He makes a whole LOT of money.

    after about 6 months, my earthlink account started getting some spam…not much because earthlink does a pretty good job of spam blocking but my work account? 80% is spam…its almost to the point where I’d rather just not have a work email address. There’s no point to it.

  11. for some reason my work email’s only about 50/50 — maybe a little worse, but it’s not more than 20ish a day. it’s the type of mail i get there — for some reason, i get the bestiality, rape, and incest pr0n stuff there. they put pictures in it. oh man. i get kinda freaked about that stuff. and it comes in every day.

    obviously this makes money. people click.

    it would be lovely if everyone could be convinced never to click a link in a spam, never to buy a thing from a spammer, for the entire industry to go belly-up.

  12. additional note — this kdblog addy is relatively spam-free — only the very occasional spam. if that — it’s a good one. but i never put it in link form (javascript or otherwise) and never used it as a comment link. it’s the best addy i have, really.

    shit, now i’ve jinxed myself and the bots are going to look for spelled out email addys. great.

  13. I am the one who made the comparison of spam to telemarketing, and after being awakened this very Sunday morning by someone trying to sell me something, I stand by my opinion.

    I also pay extra to block unknown callers to keep telemarketers from calling my home, but the technology some of them use today bypasses the service I have, and yes it pisses me off. If I want your product I’ll get in touch with you, and I don’t need an ad delivered by email or phone to encourage me.

    Now, as I said before, I meant no disrespect to those whose job it is, and I myself did the job for about a week some 15 years ago or so, but after seeing how intrusive and rude it was I felt it was a job better left to those more desperate than myself or those with no conscience for it to bother.

    And I do understand what you are saying about the money, VASpider, and fully understand your position on this, but speaking for myself only, I would rather work as gas station restroom attendant than I had to telemarket or spam, and even if it meant I had to work two jobs to survive.

    But I guess I should add how not long ago, I saw a story on the news about telemarketers taking advantage of older folks, and then found out my own mother had been tricked into buying things she didn’t need by telemarketers more concerned with a sale than with the fact that my mother is near death’s door and living on a $600 a month income.

    I’m shutting up now. 🙂

  14. One more thing … I shouldn’t have to tell someone to remove me from their list, whether spam or telephone, when I never asked them to add me in the first place.

  15. Yeah, kd, mine was “going to be moving out of a house because it was being sold and no longer rented to us in less than a month and needed first month’s rent and security deposit before then.”

    So I’m there with you. Anyway, there we go. What I did was not illegal, and I’m still really rankling against Lee’s comment. I couldn’t make it past the second week because I hated being screamed at and cursed at by people.

    Anyway, now I need to sleep, it’s almost 7 AM here and I am too tired to be writing anything productive.

  16. I realize neither spam nor telemarketing is illegal, and I asked the question simply to make my point. If you do the job, you are accountable for your participation. And lastly, I was not trying to offend anyone with my feelings on the subject. I simply do not like spam or telemarketers, and still feel they are the same thing to the general public at their mercy.

    And I’m sorry life has been rough for you guys, but it’s been rough for a lot of us. I’ve been homeless myself, and yet I’m still entitled to dislike the intrusive nature of both spam and telemarketing. I’m still entitled to feel that both should be illegal whether they are or not. And I am still entitled to believe any job would be better.

    And this is coming from someone who did the job temporarily just like you guys did, and it was because of my experience and the experience of my mother that I feel this way. So I’m not trying to say I am better than either of you, and I’m not trying to say every person who does the job now is horrible.

    And now, while it has been a pleasure discussing this subject with you both, this appears to be a volatile subject with too much potential for highly negative reactions to erupt at this point, and I really enjoy living in Switzerblogland. So I shall take my leave. 😉

    Have a great day!

  17. I had a unsettling spam experience today. I turned on a machine that hasnt been on for months to search for an old email. When I started my email program it started pulling mail… all spam. I knew I’d deleted my mail accounts so I wouldn’t end up with mail at two places. Upon examining the headers I found it was coming to an email I’d set up on justlisa as a test and forgot to remove from outlook express. It’s never been used anywhere other than just to see how difficult it was to set up another user with the justlisa address. Very weird.

  18. ahh, the targeting of the elderly. this home phone we have abandoned (chris uses it to call out to his mom or me, and my DSL rides on it) was once my MIL’s number. she is quite elderly, and very very vulnerable to any scheme (early alzheimer’s, we think). the ones who call ‘have her number’ so to speak.

    i can still understand the desperation of needing money in the short-term, and doing what you have to do. telemarketer employees are handed all manner of BS in the recruitment process, and it’s good money … i understand. again, like the spammers, it’s management decisions to, say, exploit the elderly, that are the real evil with telemarketers. the ones in the boiler room, much less at fault.

    my very, very first job was selling ‘tickets to the fireman’s ball’. i had a successful part-time stint setting appointments for an insulation contractor, who did good work and wasn’t ripping anyone off. and i had a two week job selling discount ticket books, when i was living in my car. no one else would hire my unwashed (except in gas station bathrooms), no-address-having ass. trust me, i understand.

  19. I understand desperate situations. I really, really do. And I also understand where both you and VASpider are coming from on that, kd. I just can’t ever see myself being that desperate for work.

    But you’re right, it’s not all the fault of the worker themselves, and I didn’t mean to imply it was all their fault in the first place, but if you do the job you are at least partially accountable for your own participation in the deed. If I worked for someone who told me to do something illegal or unethical, or else I would lose my job, how innocent would I truly be if I complied?

    Now, I’m really shutting up cause it’s after three and bed is calling my name. 🙂

  20. well, when we define desperate as “living in the backseat of a ’72 capri with the back side window knocked out in the rainy season in the bay area”, well, there you go.

    i haven’t done it since i was, say, 19 years old. at 20, i did a bit of door-to-door electrolux selling.

    yes, yes, of course if your boss tells you to do something illegal, and you comply, your complicity is prosecutable.

    however, neither spamming nor telemarketing is against the law. so it’s a matter of morality, and i find that that is entirely malleable, in instances where there is hunger, homelessness, fear of homelessness, kids to feed, etc.

    you just make do.

  21. re: the article Jason referenced: i think this is it found it thru newsweek but it’s on MSN. anyway.

    an excerpt:

    Spam operations are often, by necessity, fly-by-night businesses. Bulk e-mailers gather addresses using �spambots� like the $179 Atomic Harvester, a piece of software that scours the Internet 24/7, vacuuming up addresses it encounters on bulletin boards and directories. Spammers often don�t charge clients anything up front, but will take 40 to 50 percent of the revenue an ad generates (or, with products like insurance, $7 a lead). Since most U.S. ISPs have policies that prohibit sending out spam, the majority of spammers operate by sending their messages to �blind� relays, computers in China, South Korea or Taiwan that redirect the e-mail and make it difficult to trace.

    this is so much more convoluted and roundabout than the traditional telemarketer, who is governed by rules such as ‘no call’ lists.

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