In today’s digital world, email is one of the main ways we contact each other. 14 years ago, Congress signed a set of rules called the CAN-SPAM Act designed to protect consumer privacy and limit the amount and type of unsolicited marketing messages they receive.
Scam Alert: A New Unsubscribe Scam
How the Scam Works
This scam starts with a bunch of spam. You’ll begin to notice your inbox being flooded with identical-looking spammy sales pitches, anything from weight loss treatments to work from home opportunities. People have reported receiving as many as 10-15 emails. Each email will have its sales pitch, but also multiple opportunities to click a link and “Unsubscribe”. After several unwanted emails, many people are desperate to stop the problem and click the link.
Unsubscribe options are available on most emails you receive, including those from legitimate senders, and are created by the sender. In this case, the scammers have embedded malicious links into the unsubscribe buttons. The link may cause malware to be installed on your computer, or lead to a form designed to capture more of your personal information that hackers need to commit ID theft.
What Can You Do to Avoid this Scam?
If you see the signs of the unsubscribe scam (many identical, unrequested emails, all with multiple unsubscribe links), take these steps to avoid falling victim.
- Don’t Click “Unsubscribe”– As tempting as it may be, don’t click the unsubscribe link in the email.
- Report as Spam– Many email services have an option to report spam. If you receive an email from an unknown sender, report it as spam rather than clicking unsubscribe. This will mark the email as junk and may lead to other emails from the same sender being directed to the spam folder over time.
Unsubscribe buttons are still a safe choice for emails you’ve requested, but no longer want to receive. If you know and trust the company, you’re most likely safe to click unsubscribe. If the email is unknown and unrequested, report it as spam instead.
Have you seen this unsubscribe scam in action?