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What is a Spamtrap?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 08 November 2016
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2016
    Conjecture Corporation
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Also known as a spam collector or a honey pot, a spamtrap is an email address that has been created for the express purpose of redirecting the efforts of spammers to that address. In theory, this process aids in stopping email abuse by diverting the attention of spammers away from email addresses that are in active use for business and personal communications. The effectiveness of this approach is questioned in some quarters, especially since it is relatively easy for spammers to discover the ruse.

The general idea behind a spamtrap is to publish the address only in venues where email address harvesting by spammers is like to occur. For example, an individual who participates at paid to click sites may use the throwaway email address when and as needed to complete offers. As the lists are harvested and distributed to a number of marketers, the unsolicited email advertising flows directly into the spamtrap, but does not impact the email address that the individual uses for general communication purposes.

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The end result is that the spamtrap makes it possible to protect the integrity of the business or personal email address that is used for solicited communications. This means less of an opportunity for unsolicited emails to make their way into the inbox folder of the primary email account. In terms of business operations, this means less stress on servers and less time spent by employees making their way through spam emails that are intermingled with legitimate emails from customers or business partners.

Some have heralded the spamtrap as a means of stopping email abuse. Others question just how effective this method is in the long run. While it is helpful in minimizing the volume of unsolicited email to the address most typically used by the end user, the method does little to deter spamming in general. Even when the spamtrap makes use of anti-spam software to eventually block certain addresses, there is still the danger of the spammer identifying the true purpose for the email address, and choosing to publish it on a number of legitimate email listings. This type of list poisoning can eventually create some issues for the end user, especially if the spamtrap is too closely associated with the details of the end user’s identity. The spammer may begin to include the spamtrap as part of the spam emails, including the address in the CC area of the message, effectively turning the email trap into a spamming email address.

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