How to Unsubscribe from Spam

By James Kinkade

Unsubscribing from email messages that you never asked for is a tricky business. In many cases clicking on the included unsubscribe link in the email only acts to verify to the spammer that your address is valid. Here are some ways to remove (or at least attempt to remove) your address from a spammer's list.

Step 1

Examine your email history with the sender. Before you automatically reach for the "Mark as Spam" button provided by your email client, pause for just a moment and try to recall if the email was at one time requested. In order to de-legitimize spammers, we must accept that there are legitimate email marketers that rely on your participation. Pushing the "Mark as Spam" button on their emails punishes them for doing what, in many cases, you asked them to do.

Step 2

If you recognize the sender and the email seems to be legitimate, but you simply no longer wish to receive the emails, then open the email and find the unsubscribe link. U.S. marketers must include such a link, as well as their physical address and a privacy policy statement. Once you unsubscribe, you will want to retain a copy of the email and any confirmation information just in case you are not removed.

Step 3

In many cases, the sender is not identifiable. If you cannot easily identify the sender, do not open the email; view the header information first. In email clients such as Outlook, you can do this from the "View" or "File" menu items. In some cases you can right-click on the email and then open it with properties. In web email clients, you may have to open the email first before viewing the headers. As long as your email settings do not load images automatically, you should be safe opening the email. The properties window will show the email header information, which identifies the actual sender.

Step 4

Here are the headers of an actual spam email that I received. Since the guy is a spammer, I don't really care that his email address is out there for all to see. Received: from PC ([]) by mailhost.*******.com (IceWarp 9.2.1) with ESMTP id DXU56335 for <***@******.com>; Wed, 23 Apr 2008 12:23:35 -0700 Received: from [] by; Wed, 23 Apr 2008 16:23:36 -0300 Message-ID: <01c8a55e$616b7400$900fe818@psofd> From: "Zachariah Frye" <> To: <***@******.com> Subject: [Spam 9.75] Top Designer Shoes 60% OFF Gucci Chanel Prada Dior Date: Wed, 23 Apr 2008 16:23:36 -0300 The top line tells you that this was probably a zombie PC, and identifies the IP address of the server, A quick visit to shows that that IP is on every single blacklist they monitor. Unfortunately, in this case, there is no way to actually unsubscribe to prevent receiving further emails. If you using your work email, contact your IT department to set up blocks to stop emails from the listed IP. In this case, using the "Report as Spam" button is warranted.

Step 5

In many instances, information about the sending server can be gleaned. Some third-party mail servers include an abuse email address where you can report inappropriate behavior. If there is an address, copy and paste the entire email header information into the email you send to them. That information will help them identify a rogue customer sending through their email servers. While asking to be removed from a legitimate mail provider will work, the same request to a genuine spammer will fall on deaf, unscrupulous ears.

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