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A spam trap is a valid email address used to identify spam messages. The way it works is a company places a valid email on their website and monitors the email it receives. As it wasn't subscribed to any email, anything it receives must be unsolicited or spam.

Many companies that sell email lists capture email addresses from the internet. Their spider software locates an email from a webpage. The list is then sold to unsuspecting customers. this generally means the address must have been publicized somewhere. Common sources for spam traps are addresses that were once used for example: hostmaster@, postoffice@ in such areas as domain registrations or company contact information web pages. In some situations, addresses that were once valid but have been re-purposed as spam trap email address.

Why Do They Matter?

Many organizations use spam traps to control spam. Generally speaking, sending emails to a spam trap email address will lead, directly or indirectly, to being blacklisted by the trap's owner. Organizations that use spam traps include SpamCop, Passive Spam Block List (PSBL), Brightmail, and most large ISPs.

How Did One Get on Our List?

Good list maintenance will prevent spam trap emails from ever joining your list. How a spam trap came to be on your list depends on the type of trap. Typical mechanisms include:

Purchase an email list from the internet can be tricky. If you harvest addresses, purchase harvested emails, use email append services, or fail to use permission based rules for your list, you risk adding spam traps to your list. No reputable organization should use address harvesting, or list purchases without investigating where the emails came from.

Oddly once-valid addresses and domains can sometimes be reused as a spam trap email. If you go for a long time without mailing to an address, this may happen. Additionally, if you do not practice bounce management, an invalid address may remain on your list and end up a spam trap email.

How Do We Remove Them?

Spam traps are a secret. This makes removal impossible.

This leaves repermissioning your list. Send a message requiring subscribers to re-optin. For many it's inconvenient to re-valid subscribers. And some don't reconfirm, even though they wish to remain on the list.

Removing spam traps from lists is difficult and takes a lot of time. It's far better to ensure they don't get on your lists in the first place.

How To Avoid Spam Traps

Don't buy cheap 300 million email address lists from the internet. Make sure the emails have additional information like: First Name, Last Name, IP address, address, city and state. And even then its good to ask the seller how they get their lists. Stay away from email mining software.

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