What are Spam traps?

Spam traps, or honeypots, are email addresses used to identify and monitor spam emails.

They look like regular email addresses and are often created from old email accounts no longer used by their original owner. ISPs (Internet Service Providers) and anti-spam groups use spam traps as a fraud management tool to find senders who send emails to out-of-date lists or lists that they don’t have permission to send to, so they can block these senders.

Email addresses collected this way are usually shared with other spammers or added to bulk mailing lists and sold to people who may not understand the consequences of emailing people without their permission.

If a spam trap address ends up on one of your subscriber lists, and you send to that list, it’s called “hitting a spam trap”. This means you’re immediately flagged and blocklisted. The best way to avoid any spam trap is to clean your contact list regularly.

What are the types of spam traps?

Different types of spam traps will impact you differently.

Two types of spam traps are pristine spam traps and recycled spam traps.

Pristine spam traps

ISPs and other organizations generate email addresses that a sender has never used. These email addresses are embedded in websites, so when spammers scrape websites for contacts, the pristine spam traps end up in their mailing lists.

If ISPs notice that a sender is sending their promotional emails to a pristine spam trap, they take it as an indication that the sender is suspiciously gathering contacts.

Pristine spam traps have severe repercussions for your business. Your IP address or domain will probably be added to a list of denied email addresses. Meaning your emails will go straight to the spam folder.

Recycled spam traps

On the other hand, old domain registrations or emails that were once valid are often used for recycled spam traps. For example, role addresses (info@) or addresses of past employees. These spam traps are not as serious as pristine traps since updating the contact list for addresses no longer in use takes time.

When cleaning your lists, they are more challenging to spot since those addresses look as valid as the others.

Emails with typos, like “gnail” instead of “gmail”, can also be used as spam traps.

How to prevent spam traps from entering your lists?

Poor email management is the root problem of getting spam traps on your email lists. You can prevent spam traps by following these steps:

  • Avoid purchasing lists – You shouldn’t send emails to users who haven’t opted-in to receiving your communication
  • Check email addresses – use email validation to verify your subscriber email list
  • Keep your lists updated
Aug 18th, 2023
2 min read

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