Unsubscribe scams: Does unsubscribing from spam work?

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Many of us rely on emails to communicate, and spam emails likely aren’t a new concept to you. Unsubscribing from them seems like a good idea, but we’ve found that scammers can also steal information from you by asking you to unsubscribe. 

Scammers can trick you into giving them your information using various tactics. Not knowing when to unsubscribe from legit emails vs. scam emails can put your information at risk. You’ll want to secure your email, especially since this is where your important transactions happen. 

We understand your pain, so we’ve looked at the latest reports on unsubscribe email scams. Knowing the latest tactics that email scammers use as technology evolves is essential so that you can have proper security measures in place. 

We also gathered the best tips from email and security experts on keeping your emails and the best way to manage spam emails. Don’t miss out on any of these!

Is unsubscribing from emails safe?

Unfortunately, “unsubscribe” buttons can be dangerous. Spammers have found ways to steal personal information from these links. They can create fake unsubscribe links that lead to fraudulent websites, malware, and other tricks used to scam you. 

To understand the risks, we’ve gathered their most common tactics here:

Malware

Once you click that fake unsubscribe button, you may download malware onto your device. This can compromise the integrity of your computer, mobile phone, laptop, and other gadgets. Hackers can also use malware to infiltrate your files. 

In some cases, hackers can use malware to spy on you. They’ll be able to see all your activities, including when you’re typing in passwords or completing financial transactions. 

Spam website

Apart from malware, the fake buttons and links can also lead to fraudulent websites. These websites will look trustworthy and familiar and may deceive you into sharing your data. 

The site will ask you to type in details to “successfully unsubscribe,” but it’s just spammers trying to extract sensitive information from you. 

More spam messages

Have you ever wondered why you keep getting junk emails even after unsubscribing?

Sometimes, scammers will send users spam emails to confirm if an email address is active. Once they confirm that you regularly use yours, they’ll plague your inbox with spam emails, usually packaged to look believable.

You’ll be receiving what can seem like newsletters or product promotions, so make sure to read messages carefully. Legitimate companies won’t send emails with misspellings, grammatical errors, or generic greetings. 

When is it safe to unsubscribe from spam emails?

Verifying the email sender's identity is the best and most effective way to protect yourself from spam emails. 

Here’s how you can do so:

Hover over the “From” display name and verify the email address attached to the message. Most emails are variations of the original. 

For instance, a scammer can send an email impersonating Walmart—they may send it with an email address like  “[email protected]” It’s best to ignore these messages once you detect them. 

What should you do with spam emails?

Most platforms have automatic features that filter out spam and junk emails. This is true for Apple Mail, Gmail, Outlook, and Yahoo Mail. 

The platform will place these spam messages into a separate folder, but in some cases, spam email can still make its way to your primary inbox. 

Once you receive and confirm a spam email, though, don’t delete it just yet. Make sure to mark it as spam, as this helps ensure that the platform will send all messages from the sender to your junk mail moving forward. 

But how do you properly identify spam mail? It’s simple—if it looks like a spam message, treat it as a spam message. 

If you don’t remember subscribing to that company or newsletter, it’s also most likely spam.

How to manage spam emails properly

Spam is, unfortunately, a normal part of the digital world. It’s expected, especially given the daily content we deal with. 

But not all spam messages are malicious—it’s just that hackers have found a way to steal personal information from you through them. 

So, it’s important to learn how to manage spam emails so you can unsubscribe to legitimate ones. They can be a nuisance, and being bombarded with such content can make work more difficult and impossible to discern between harmless and risky spam messages. 

If you want to reduce these emails, you can mark them as spam even without reading them.

Here’s how to unsubscribe from spam emails without opening them on your Gmail account:

  • Step 1: Right-click the email you want to mark as spam. It should show a drop-down menu.
  • Step 2: Locate the “Move to” menu. It should have a folder icon with an arrow inside.
  • Step 3: Select “Spam.”

By doing so, you’ll move the email from your inbox to the spam folder. 

How to avoid unsubscribe email scams

Now that you know how to manage spam emails, it’s also important to learn how to avoid unsubscribe email scams. 

Here are some of the best methods we’ve gathered: 

1. “Train” your email platform’s spam filter 

Ben Austin, CEO and Founder of digital marketing agency Absolute Digital Media, states, “The best way to avoid unsubscribe email scams is to steer clear of selecting any links in unknown emails. Instead, mark the email as spam. Doing so will tell your email provider that you’re not interested in this type of email and automatically block them in the future.”

Although your email service likely has a built-in spam filtration system, it isn’t foolproof. The best way to properly manage spam is to train the filters. 

Make sure to manually go through your inbox once a week, flagging one or two messages that you believe are spam. Report these emails as spam, and your email service filtration system will follow.

2. Block the sender

When you’ve verified that the sender isn’t legitimate, report and block them as well. This will prevent them from sending further messages, which helps keep your email safe. In turn, you also keep your bank and social media accounts safe. 

3. Recognize scam signs

If you want to prevent yourself from becoming a scam victim, it’s important to learn how to recognize a scam. Here are some telltale signs:

  • The email asks you to share personal information, such as your birthdate, contact information, Social Security number, and other details like your mother’s maiden name
  • The company emailing you does not exist, or the domain names and email addresses do not match
  • The message contains grammatical errors and misspellings
  • The email threatens you to take action

Conclusion

It’s safe to say that spam emails continue to be the banes of our existence, and even more so because scammers have found a way to use them for identity theft and other criminal activities. 

The mere act of unsubscribing is no longer safe, but the good news is that there are ways to minimize your risk and exposure. Know the signs and always be vigilant!

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