The true facts of spam traps and typo traps


I’m seeing an increase in the number of articles stating wildly wrong things about spam traps. Some have started claiming that typo traps are new. Or that typo traps are newly used by Spamhaus. These claims make for great copy, I guess. Wild claims about how the evil anti-commerce self-appointed internet police are actively trying to trap marketers get clicks. These claims also reinforce the martyr complex some senders have and gives them something to commiserate about over drinks at the next email conference.
I strongly recommend ignoring any article that claims Spamhaus started using typo traps in December 2012. In fact, you can immediately dismiss absolutely everything they have to say. They are wrong and have proven they can’t be bothered to do any fact checking.
I can’t figure out why so many people repeat the same false statements over and over and over again. They’re wrong, and no amount of explaining the truth seems to make any difference. I went looking for evidence.
First, I asked on Facebook. A bunch of my contacts on Facebook have have been running spam traps for a long time. Multiple people commented that they, personally, have been using typos to track spam since the late ’90s. These typos were on both the right hand side of the @ sign (the domain side) but also on the left hand side of the @ sign (the username).
Then, I looked through my archives of one of the anti-spam mailing lists and I see a Spamhaus volunteer mentioning that he had already been using typo traps in 2007.  I asked him about this and he pointed out these are some of his older traps and had been around for many years before that mention. 
Of course, we’ve written about typo domains used by an anti-spam group to catch spam.
The truth is, typo traps are not new and they’re not a new set of traps for Spamhaus. I’ve talked about traps over and over again. But I’m seeing more and more articles pop up that make verifiably wrong statements about spam traps. Here are a few facts about spam traps.

  • Spamhaus has been using typo traps for much longer than December 2012.
  • Spamhaus is not the only group using typos to capture non-opt in mail.
  • Many traps, including at least some run by Spamhaus, actively reject every message sent to them.
  • Some traps reject some portion of the email sent to them.
  • A single hit to any trap doesn’t trigger a listing.

These are facts about spam traps that I’ve shared before. There are other facts about spam traps I’ve shared before.
I feel like I’m repeating myself over and over again. But the false information about spam traps seems to be shared much more widely than the actual facts.

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By laura

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