Help Me Bust Spammers!

Photo (cc) by cookipediachef

Despite my best efforts, my email inbox has become a magnet for spam. And while junk mail filtering does a pretty good job of sorting those messages into a spam folder, I can’t help but wonder how spammers got my address in the first place.

I never signed up for an “I’ll transfer money to your foreign bank account” list or inquired about purchasing Viagra, Cialis, high-quality replica watches, or testosterone booster. So where did these “businesses” get my email address?

One way spammers get hold of your email address is by purchasing it from a more legitimate company. You may have enrolled in a loyalty/rewards program at a local business and given them your email address. Or you may have signed up for updates of daily deals in your city, which are only delivered by email.

Buried in the fine print was something only a lawyer could understand that gave them permission to sell your email address (and other information about you) to outside companies, earning them a tidy profit and you a full spam folder.

Since these companies are not going to fully disclose these shadier business practices, the only way to find out who’s selling information and who’s not is to sign up for each one of these loyalty/rewards programs or websites with a different email address, then check back in a few months to see which addresses get the most junk.

So that’s exactly what I’m going to do.

The plan

In a few days, I’m going to sign up for the loyalty/rewards programs or websites posted below, giving each one a unique email address. The address will not be used for any other purpose, and will not be given out to anyone or posted online anywhere. (I’m not even going to tell Stacy what they are.)

But I need your help to build the list. These are only the companies and websites I think would be good to investigate. Who would you like to see added? Post your suggestions in the comments below the story.

Pharmacies

  • Rite Aid
  • CVS

Office supply

  • Staples
  • Office Depot

Groceries

  • Kroger
  • Safeway

Airlines

  • Delta
  • American Airlines
  • Southwest
  • US Airways

Hotels

  • Marriott
  • Hilton
  • Holiday Inn

Retail

  • Best Buy

Websites

  • Groupon
  • Living Social
  • Yipit
  • Gilt
  • Woot
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google+

From Your Suggestions

  • Craig’s List
  • Walmart
  • Walgreens
  • United Air
  • Kmart (and Sears, Land’s End, Craftsman, etc.)
  • LinkedIn

Watch this space and see which of these companies, if any, use my email address (and maybe yours) to fatten their bottom lines while they fatten our inboxes!

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