How do we build trust in a digital world?
I don't know about you but I tend to get annoyed with businesses that constantly send me emails. Not just once or twice a week, which is too often to begin with, but every single day and sometimes twice a day! They're like the super frustrated Robo Caller that calls 7-10 times in one day. I can see why customers hedge when asked for their email address. Oh great, another list! Then when I try unsubscribing, it says I'm unsubscribed, but am I really? Last month, I decided to test a theory I had (on an account I rarely use) by taking one week's worth on incoming emails, dividing it by 7 to get my daily average and then unsubscribed from 15 different companies, services, or marketers to see if it'd make a difference. Three weeks later, after running the numbers again, I found that not only did it not make a difference but I was getting way more emails than before. Granted, the lists I unsubscribed from quit sending mail but they got replaced by a bunch of new spammers and junk senders. Does unsubscribe mean we just get switched to another email address? I had to find out. And this is what I learned.
Whatever you do, Don't click "unsubscribe"
1. Do not click unsubscribe - Never Ever click that little unsubscribe button thinking it's your road to freedom from unwanted mail. It seems as if by clicking unsubscribe we are letting the sender know our email address is valid and active. They think because we opened their mail that we are interested and they got our attention so they find another way to market to us. Some even sell our addresses to the highest bidder which leads to a trove of scammers and junk mail filling up our inboxes. How could I be so naive!
That's what I get for trusting people will do the right thing. However I still do believe people are, in general, good honest and trustworthy.
2. It doesn't get any better because there seemingly are malicious unsubscribe systems that are out to profit against us. By hitting unsubscribe we might be unknowingly sharing information about our device and what's on it. That sucks!
Some systems open to an unsubscribe page which is actually another browser. By clicking that unsubscribe tab the website owner can learn our IP address, our location, what OS we're using and could even put a tracking cookie on our device allowing them to see what sites we visit. Grrrrrr!
Really beware of any unsubscribe links that open to what looks like sending an email request to be removed from their mailing list. Every email sent contains metadata in the message header, such as any anti-spam software we may use plus the IP address and name of our email server.
If that information falls into the wrong hands, they could possibly launch a series of cyberattacks against us which would have a good chance of surviving because they'd target the specific software our device is running. Unbelievable!
3. We might fall victim to an Unsubscribe Phishing Scam.
For years, cybercriminals have been creating phishing emails that try to trick recipients into clicking an “Unsubscribe” link. People who fall for the ruse are often sent to a web page that downloads malware on their device or steals the personal data they enter into a form.
For example, in October 2020, a new unsubscribe phishing email scam was making the rounds. Cybercriminals sent out emails that included the message “Your subscription to our Adult Dating list has been confirmed. For your records, here is a copy of the information you submitted to us”, which was followed by the email recipient’s name and email address. The message went on to say that they could unsubscribe from the list if they didn’t want to receive emails from the adult dating site. All they needed to do was click the “Unsubscribe” link, which sent them to a malicious website. Who gets off on doing this crap?! Maddening, huh? I know I didn't unsubscribe by sending any emails but by just clicking that little link I put myself into a world of potential jeopardy and wanted to let you know what I found out.
Best Way to Get Rid of Unwanted Mail
The best way to get rid of junk mail is to mark the message as Spam in our email settings or program. That way, all future emails from those senders will automatically be sent to our Spam or Junk Folder.
No wonder it's tough to build trust online when there are so many rotten entities out to get us. The good, by far, outweighs evil. We just need to be careful and deal with who we know. If it feels funny, RUN.