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Do You Open Spam Email? If So, Why?

Posted by susabelle at 1:04 PM on July 17, 2009

According to a recent study by the Messaging Anti-Abuse Working Group, subtitled “Of course, I never reply to spam – except sometimes,” we are clicking on spam more often than may be assumed.  According to the survey, half of the respondents clicked and/or replied to spam messages for the following reasons:

  • Clicked on it by mistake: 17 percent
  • Not sure why they did it: 13 percent
  • Sent a note to complain about the spam: 13 percent
  • Interested in the product or service: 12 percent
  • Wanted to see what would happen: 6 percent

Further, the study states that 1 in 6 users actually responds to a spam message in some way, and up to half of those purchase a product or service offered in a spam email.

Doesn’t sound like a lot, but when you consider how many millions of spam emails go out every day (it is estimated that 85% of all email being sent is spam), that is a considerable number.  A spammer’s overhead is very very low; even a few sales will line a spammer’s pockets quite nicely.

I always wonder who it is who buys this stuff.  Besides – ahem – “male enhancement” products, I also see spam for hair growth, weight loss, and physical fitness products.  And there’s the millions of insurance offers, mortgage offers, and the Nigerian scams as well.  Is anyone really dumb enough to apply for a mortgage through an link in an unsolicited email message?

Obviously, someone is, or the spammers would have no reason to exist.  My husband is always looking at spam and clicking on things, “just for the fun of it,” he tells me.  I keep reminding him this is why I have to keep his computer so locked down, because at least 20% of those messages include links to either dangerous software, or to Internet sites that will infect your computer.  He seems unwilling to be trained, ergo, I’ve got him so throttled his computer can barely function.

I feel bad for those that don’t have a household techie that can take the sting out of spam-clicking.  Spammers are like drug dealers:  they would have no income if it weren’t for the fact that people were actually buying what they were selling!  When people stop responding to spam, the spam will go away.

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