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It Could Be a Scam

Spam emails are a nuisance at best and a cybersecurity risk at worst. As such, it’s tempting to unsubscribe whenever you see the option, but you should think twice before doing so. Opening that link could seem harmless, but it can make you even more of a target. In many cases, there are better, safer ways to deal with spam than clicking “unsubscribe.”

Risks of Unsubscribing From Spam Emails

Unsubscribing from marketing messages from a trusted, legitimate source is totally safe and a good way to clear your inbox. But if you get an email from a site you don’t recognize, don’t remember signing up for, or that looks suspicious, don’t click that link. Statista reported that, in 2022, over 48 percent of all email messages were spam. Many of these spam messages are more annoying than dangerous, but as cybercrime grows, it pays to show a little caution.

Cybercriminals know your natural reaction to obvious spam is to hit “unsubscribe.” As a result, some use those links to take you to an unsafe site or install malware on your device. As a 2020 Statista survey of managed service providers shows, spam emails are the most common way ransomware infects a system, so you should think twice before clicking any link in these messages.

Even if the unsubscribe link isn’t malicious, it can cause further issues. Opening it proves your email is active, making you a target for other spam messages or more damaging phishing attempts. In that case, rather ironically, clicking “unsubscribe” could result in you getting flooded with more spam.

How to Reduce Spam Emails Without Unsubscribing

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Given those risks, it’s best not to unsubscribe from spam emails, but you’ll still want to stop them from flooding your inbox. Here are some safer steps you can take instead.

Keep Your Email Address as Private as Possible

One of the best ways to reduce spam emails is to give out your email address as little as possible. Only share your email with a website or business when you absolutely need to, even if you trust the site. Cybercriminals can still breach trusted companies to get your email address and spam you.

This step can initially seem tricky because so many online platforms require an email address. Thankfully, several apps today let you create temporary addresses to sign up for these services without giving away your real account.

Delete and Block Spam

When spam emails inevitably find their way into your inbox, you can delete them instead of unsubscribing. Cybercriminals can sometimes tell when you’ve opened an email or when you don’t click on anything, so it’s best to delete unwanted messages without opening them.

You can also report these emails as spam or junk. Doing so will help your email provider automatically block messages from these senders so you don’t have to keep deleting them. If they still come in, you can manually block the sender’s address.

Use Multiple Email Addresses

If you want to stay safe and spam free, consider creating multiple email accounts. You can set up a new email address in just a few steps, then use different accounts for different things.

Use one email address for communication and another for signing up for online services. That way, spam is more likely to go to the inbox you don’t use to communicate with people, making it less of a concern. Having multiple accounts will also minimize risks from credential stuffing if some of your information leaks in a data breach.

Take Your Email Security Seriously

Email is central to many online activities but is rife with security concerns. Even something as seemingly innocent as clicking a link to unsubscribe can introduce risks, so be careful with your email account.

Spam is annoying and can be dangerous, but there are safe ways to deal with it. Next time you get a spam message in your inbox, follow these steps instead of clicking “unsubscribe.”


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