In today’s perpetually internet-connected world selling wares by the way of advertisement through email has become one of the most firmly established ways for a company to collect revenue. As people are checking their emails these days more often than they may even tend to their personal hygiene, it’s no doubt that outing one’s product into the matrix of email addresses is more of a numbers game when it comes to the probability of making a sale. The downside, however, is that there are a great many people who have taken advantage of the convenience of email solicitation. Some people have understood that the nature of email solicitation is a numbers game, and in response to that, they have made it their mission to ‘target’ as many people as they can at once to view their message; more often than not, the service or product that they offer is illegitimate.
The act of consistently bombarding the users of an email provider with mass emails directed at grabbing their attention and getting them to pay money is known as ‘spam’, and its prevalence is very high. The purpose of a spam email can range from fooling the recipient into donating or buying a nonexistent product, to simply infecting their computer with a software that allows their private activity to be viewed remotely. In the earlier days of the Internet, users were much less savvy and scrupulous when it came to dubious email solicitation. Users were more likely to believe that they truly were ‘winners’ of an ambiguous contest or had been entitled to once-in-a-lifetime ‘deals’; it essentially forced millions of people to come face to face with the harsh reality of “too good to be true”. The rate of victims to fraudulent email schemes was so high that there had to be the implementation of folder that would intercept those emails altogether; a “spam folder”. In the current time, however, a lot of spam still manages to slip through the cracks in the woodwork and plague a person’s inbox as well as their spam folder. As the crackdown on fraudulent emails has increased in intensity, so have the methods of those who produce them.
As the spam folder was proved to be proficient as taking the lowest level of spam out of the equation, those who are more persistent in profiting through spam developed more creative ways to continue their fraudulent solicitation. By making emails that appear to be sent from the source of legitimate company upon which people register their private payment information, email users let their guard down and answer the requests to provide their credit cards and social security numbers. Essentially, what this means is that the spam has been ‘cloaked’ in a facetious disguise of legitimacy to make it so that users will comply with a spam without even knowing that it’s illegitimate; some of these spam emails are so convincingly crafted that even the email provider is unable to discern between what is legitimate and what is the craft of a malicious spammer.
In spite of the great amount of fraudulent emails directed at turning people into victims of their own curiosity, there are still legitimate forms of providing service and wares through email advertisement. The use of an email service to advertise one’s wares is allowed as long as it comes under the requirements of a certain set of rules set by the FTC (Federal Trade Commission). The guidelines of the FTC are incredibly strict and unforgiving of email advertisers that do not comply with their demands, so much so that a $16000 fine is levied upon one or every single email that they produce that goes against their qualifications for legitimacy.
The guidelines that clear an email to solicit the wares offered by the sender must comply with the CAN-SPAM act, a service meant to counter-act the damage that can be potentially caused to people who aren’t aware that they could be being victimized by a fraudulent email. There are seven rules in total that are made to determine whether or not an email is in full compliance with CAN-SPAM, and the email must comply with every one of those guidelines before it is considered passable. The rules as follows:
• An email should not be built to hide the identity of the sender. There must be no misrepresentation of the identity of the user in the “From”, “To”, and “Reply” to fields. The recipient must be able to fully identify the person sending them the message.
• The subject line must not be phrased in such a way that hides the true purpose of the email. In reading the subject line, the recipient must be able to completely understand the reason for the email.
• There must be full disclosure of the email as being for the purpose of advertisement. There can be no misconception about the object of the email to solicit or attain donations. All transactions as result of the email but be undergone with the recipient’s full knowledge of the nature of solicitation.
• The sender must let the recipient know exactly where they are located. Location verification can be satisfied through the presentation of a complete address and telephone number.
• The recipient must be provided the option to request having no further emails sent to them from the sender of the solicitation email. The method of ending email communication must be phrased in such a way that is easy for the reader to understand and go through with.
• If a recipient does choose to receive no further emails, then this decision must be accommodated immediately. No more than ten more business days may pass without accommodation of the request.
• If there are other people working under the sender of solicitation emails, then that person is responsible for their compliance with the guidelines sets by the FTC. The supervisor is not exempt from fines incurred by those sending emails under their jurisdiction.