Believe it or not, the answer you get when asking what spam is will vary depending on who you ask. Others will say that spam can only be defined as unsolicited, commercial email which does not adhere strictly to the specific requirements of the CAN-Spam Act of 2003. The image below illustrates some of the common elements associated with spam email messages. Phishing fraud email spam attempts to fool email recipients into thinking that the message came from somebody else (i.e.
This type of email spam will include an attachment or a link to a file that will trigger some virus of malware to install to the recipients computer when the attachment is opened or the link visited. The objective of Viagra, Replica Watches, Stock and Weight Loss spam is to market products and services to a large audience in hopes of getting a percentage of the millions who receive it to click and convert. Nonsensical email spam includes those email spam messages that many people receive which don’t appear to have any rationale whatsoever. Unsolicited Commercial Email (UCE) spam can be defined as those unsolicited promotional email messages sent from actual businesses who are trying to spread the news and generate sales for their products and services via email to people who did not sign up directly to receive email from them.
Unsolicited Commercial Email spam might be sent to a list of email addresses harvested from the Internet, acquired from a co-registration form or a list that was rented or purchased from a third-party.
For more information about spam and how it affects legitimate senders of email, read Understanding Spam, Email Reputation and Recipient Behavior.
Finally, to avoid antispam content filters, learn what words to avoid in email subject lines.


Be protected against scams by knowing the basic types of online fraud like spam, phishing and identity theft and how it can be avoided. Spam is electronic junk mail – unsolicited messages sent by email, text message or instant message without the recipient’s consent. More information about unexpected prize or money scams (which are often contained in spam emails), can be found in Online scams or fraud. Phishing is a way that criminals trick people into giving out their personal or financial details. We have seen an increase in the number of phishing and scam emails being blocked by our systems. A new form of phishing email that we are seeing a rise of recently is an email advising that you have been sent an electronic fax and to follow a link to a website to retrieve the fax. Children’s natural curiosity could make them more vulnerable to common Internet hazards like phishing and spam emails. These fraudulent scam emails might seem obvious to some; but they fool enough people to make it worthwhile for spammers to continue sending them. Stock spam has a secondary objective in that they try to drive a stock’s price up and then the sender sells it off shortly after the stock climbs as a result.
Unsolicited Commercial Email spam is the least threatening and generally comes from actual businesses who simply want to promote their products and services to what they think might be a relevant audience.
Read more about spam statistics, the worst spam offenders, most spamming countries and average spam conversion rates.


Spam messages often contain offers of free goods or ‘prizes’, cheap products, promises of wealth or other similar offers. Phishing messages often pretend to come from legitimate businesses, such as banks or telecommunications providers.
Phishing spam is sent to trick recipients into visiting a website and provide financial information such as a credit card number or other sensitive data.
This type of spam doesn’t pretend to be anything but an unsolicited attempt to get people to click – and people do (one in every 12,500,000 spam messages that are sent!) – that’s why we keep getting it. This spam is cleverly disguised and at first glance actually appear to be from the institution that they are masking. This type of spam is fraudulent, mis-representative and potentially damaging to the recipient. The objective of nonsensical spam is simply to test anti-spam and content filters so that spammers can more successfully deliver future messages.



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