Monday, February 13, 2006

Opt-out Lists

A few years ago, we signed up for opt-out lists for telephone solicitations and for postal mailings. The lists were a great idea...telemarketers and mass mailers theoretically used the lists to prevent contacting people who weren't going to buy anything anyway.

It worked pretty well, too. Lately, though, with our daughter born in June, we didn't have any time or energy for shopping for Christmas, so we did all our purchases through catalogs. Now, we're getting more and more catalogs in the mail from places we've never heard of, and even more telemarkter calls.

I'm not sure what happened, but we'll probably need to add ourselves to the opt-out lists again, and hope that the deluge lessens.

Recently, I ran across Blue Security's opt-out list for email spam. The idea is the same as the other opt-out put your email onto Blue Security's opt-out list, and spammers don't send you email since you're not going to buy anyway. And we all know spammers are intelligent, reasonable people, right?

Yeah, if that's all there was to it, the Blue Security opt-out list would quickly become a target for the most intensive spamming ever known. Blue Security has taken it one step farther, though, and allows members of the opt-out list to report spam that has arrived at their mailbox. Blue Security then tries to determine which merchant the spam would benefit, and then sends an email to that merchant with a complaint.

That's right, for every spam email you get, you can get one sent, anonymously, back to the merchant who would benefit from the spam.

Suddenly, spammers complying with the opt-out list makes more sense. Merchants aren't going to use spammers who result in tons of complaints coming back to them, which encourages spammers to use the opt-out list to clean their mailing lists before sending spam.

Blue Security also has a tool you can download that integrates with the big three webmail services, so you can easily report spam you receive. You can also just forward spam email to a special email address you get when you sign up. You can go to for more information.

I've recently signed up, and am actually looking forward to getting some spam to report!

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