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Missouri State University does not sell any email address lists.
However, our email addresses are in a public directory that is accessible through the main website and are available to everyone on the internet.
Sometimes it seems that as much as half of the email you receive is "junk" consisting of advertisements from people you don't know trying to sell you something you don't want. The practice of sending Unsolicited Commercial Email (UCE) or "spamming" has become a cottage industry on the Internet. There are "get-rich-quick" schemes promising people that if they just pay some sum of money for "millions of verified active email addresses" they can sit back and mass-mail a message to millions of people in hopes that some percentage of them will click on a link in their message, guaranteeing them "easy money." There are large mass-marketing spammers whose sole business is to send millions of messages, expecting only a fraction of a percent of the recipients to respond but enough to make a profit. Spammers don't care if only a fraction of a percentage of the recipients actually respond. They will happily annoy millions of us just to get a thousand responses.
Unfortunately, this is relatively inexpensive to do compared to sending paper advertisements via postal mail, and thousands are doing it. Some estimates are that spam now accounts for one third to one half of all Internet email, costing people time and businesses and email providers (including Missouri State) uncalculated amounts of money in the form of server storage space, Internet link capacity, and lost productivity.
How Did They Get your Email Address?
There are numerous "companies" who scan the Internet looking for actively used email accounts.
- They buy and consolidate various lists of addresses.
- They write "robot" programs that "surf" the Internet looking for and collecting "mailto" links on peoples' web pages.
- They buy addresses from sites that ask you to volunteer your email address. For example, if you sign up for "free joke-of-the-day," you may get added to a list.
- They monitor chat rooms.
- They simply try every likely name followed by many common email sites, for example: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, etc. Then they watch for which messages do not bounce back with "address unknown" messages, adding those to a list.
What to Do to Reduce Spam in Your Mail
The University has a variety of measures already in place to attempt to block spam. None of these methods are 100% effective, and if the measures are too aggressive, then they may also stop legitimate messages. Unfortunately, machines cannot yet read an email message or view a photo and accurately discern whether or not a message would be considered spam by its intended recipient. You should check out our Spam Experts Guide for additional steps on helping us make Missouri State's email system closer to being spam free.
If you receive a spam message follow these tips:
- It is best to simply ignore and delete it.
- It is generally not a good idea to click on any part of the message or follow any web link.
- Don't click on the "unsubscribe" link at the end of the message, if it contains one. While some have reported positive results by doing so, in general, it only gets you off one copy of whatever mailing list at one spammer. Even worse, an unscrupulous spammer will now know that your email mailbox is active and being accessed and may then sell your email address to other spammers as a "premium active" address.
- Don't reply to messages from spammers angrily demanding to be removed from their list. This only confirms to them that your address is active, and you may start getting even more spam.
- Don't provide your email address on product warranty cards, etc.
- Avoid providing your email address to "free" services on the Internet. Many of these sites make a portion of their income collecting and selling email addresses to spammers.
- Avoid providing or stating your email address in chat rooms.
- Avoiding publishing your email address on your web page.
- Designate your university email account for school related projects and contacts. Use free email accounts such as Gmail or Yahoo! for personal correspondence.
Also, keep the following points in mind:
- Nothing is free. No matter what the message says, there is always a catch. There is no such thing as free music, movies, or clothes. Nobody is going to spend money to buy your email address and send you a message in order to give you something at a loss.
- You are not the only one with that "exclusive," unique prize claim number. Everybody on our email system got that same claim number.
- You are no more "pre-approved" for that credit card than anyone else. We're all pre-approved for that card with the low, teaser interest rate that shoots up to a ridiculous rate shortly after we receive it.