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The hidden risks of unsubscribing from spam emails

5 Mins Read

PUREVPNThe hidden risks of unsubscribing from spam emails

The idea of hitting the “unsubscribe” button on a spam email may sound appealing, but did you know that it can compromise your online safety?

There’s no denying that spam emails are the uninvited guests of the digital world. Since fake marketing and advertising emails account for nearly 36% of all spam emails, cybercriminals can clutter your inbox with unsolicited offers and fake promotions.

These unwanted messages can be a hassle to deal with. However, if you are thinking about opening these emails and clicking on the “unsubscribe” option, you should think again because what seems like a quick fix can put your digital security at risk. 

Why you should think twice before unsubscribing from spam email

Before we discuss how to unsubscribe from emails, here are seven reasons why unsubscribing from spam email could expose you to more online threats. 

1. Fake unsubscribe buttons

Not all “unsubscribe” buttons are created equal. Some can be cleverly disguised to look genuine, but they may lead you down a rabbit hole of more spam.

Yes, you read that right. Cybercriminals often use fake “unsubscribe” links to trick their victims. Clicking on this option might seem like you’re taking control, but in reality, you could be walking right into a trap. 

2. Confirmation of a live email address

Fake or not, by clicking on an “unsubscribe” button, you are basically telling the scammers that you are actively using the said email address. This might lead to an influx of even more unsolicited emails masquerading as unrealistically cheap travel packages and money-saving deals, thus turning your organized inbox into a jungle of chaos. 

You may be surprised to find out that these seemingly innocuous “unsubscribe” links can redirect you to fraudulent websites. They could also steal your confidential data, such as your credentials, by prompting you to enter your personal information to complete the unsubscribing process. This can make you highly susceptible to phishing attacks.

4. Unauthorized access to your device

In some cases, by clicking on the “unsubscribe” link, you might end up accidentally downloading malware onto your device, potentially compromising its security. While this is not a common occurrence, it’s crucial to remember that spammers don’t play by the rules. A seemingly innocent link could lead to unintended consequences.

5. Risk of email harvesting

Unethical marketers may use the “unsubscribe” button to gather legitimate email addresses and sell them to other spammers. Your inbox could become a hot commodity. It is important to understand that an active email address is a commodity, and scammers can further abuse your inbox by selling it on the dark web.

6. Unpredictable reactions from spammers

Spammers are unpredictable. Clicking “unsubscribe” might not necessarily lead to your removal from their list. Instead, it could confirm your interest and result in even more emails. Remember, cybercriminals thrive on unpredictability. So, what may seem like a legitimate link might be a trick to confirm your active engagement.

7. Time-consuming process

Cybercriminals can make the “unsubscribe” process intentionally cumbersome or misleading, making it difficult for you to get rid of spam emails. Spammers know that your time is precious, so they could further complicate the process, hoping you’ll give up and continue receiving their emails.

Read more: Why am I getting so many spam calls? How to block spam calls?

How to get rid of spam emails without compromising your safety

Now that you know the risk of unsubscribing, here are some tips on how to stop getting spam emails that you might find helpful.

1. Turn on the spam filters

Most email providers allow users to enable the spam filter and select a sensitivity level that best fits their needs. It is recommended to turn this feature on and set it to a high sensitivity level, depending on your email provider. Moreover, don’t forget to periodically review and adjust the filter settings to improve its accuracy.

2. Be selective with your email address

Sharing your email address with strangers is never a good idea, as it could lead to phishing attacks and even identity theft. If you have to share your email address online, consider using a disposable or alternate address for less trusted sources. It is a digital security best practice to reserve your primary address for trusted contacts and official communications.

3. Don’t engage with spam

Wondering how to stop spam emails? Stop engaging with them.

This might be easier said than done, but if you want to safeguard your online privacy, resist the temptation to open or click on links within suspicious emails. Doing so can alert spammers that your email address is active and may result in more spam being sent your way, as discussed above. 

4. Unsubscribe from legitimate sources only

If you have made up your mind about using the “unsubscribe” option, please make sure you are only clicking on links present in emails from reputable sources. For example, leading streaming services or apparel websites usually offer people in their email list an option to opt out of receiving further correspondence. 

That being said, avoid clicking on any links in emails from unknown or suspicious senders.

5. Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN)

A premium VPN service such as PureVPN can improve your online security while providing you with a seamless online experience. No matter where you are or which WiFi network you’re using, it would safeguard your IP address and other personal information from cybercriminals. This could play a vital role in stopping spammers from getting their hands on your email addresses and targeting you with unwanted emails.

6. Set up custom filters

If possible, consider taking advantage of your email platform’s filtering options. You can create rules to automatically sort suspected spam emails into a designated folder. However, while this tip could come in handy, make sure to regularly review this folder to ensure any legitimate emails aren’t getting caught.

7. Regularly update your email preferences

Always use the provided “Manage Preferences” or “Unsubscribe” links for newsletters or marketing emails from trusted sources. This way, you can tailor the content you receive without resorting to marking them as spam.

8. Never share personal information

Be cautious of emails requesting sensitive information like passwords, credit card numbers, or social security numbers. Remember, legitimate companies will not ask for such details via email.

9. Report spam

Last but not least, most email platforms have a “Report Spam” or “Mark as Spam” option. You can use this feature to help train the spam filter and improve its accuracy in identifying and diverting unwanted emails. This is also a good way to unsubscribe from emails without compromising your online privacy.

On a final note

The world of spam is like the Wild West, with regulations that are often difficult to enforce and maintain. This means that even when you try unsubscribing, there’s no guarantee of a spam-free future.

To conclude, while “unsubscribe” can be a helpful tool, it’s essential to approach it with caution. Rely on trusted email filters and take proactive steps to safeguard your inbox. By doing so, you’ll get rid of spam emails without putting your security at risk. 

Stay connected to PureVPN Blog to learn more about spam emails. You can share your thoughts and queries below in the comments section. 

Read more: Phishing emails exposed: 9 red flags you should never ignore

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