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Author Topic: Spam Advice for companies  (Read 6718 times)

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The Web Team

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Spam Advice for companies
« on: December 02, 2006, 05:47:36 AM »
Advice for companies

My company's stock has been spammed: what do I do?

The first thing to do is to make it clear to investors that you aren't responsible for the spam. A good way to do that is to post a press release through whatever channels you use normally. Keep it short and clear: state that you didn't send or authorize the spam, state that there are 'no undisclosed material facts in regard to the company', and remind investors that the only reliable sources for information about the company are your company's website and recognized industry PR channels such as MarketWire.

You should also put a note on the home page and contact page of your website to let Internet users know that you didn't send the spam. Include a link to the press release. This may reduce the number of messages you get from users who have received spam.

You should also contact the Securities and Exchange Commission to report the spam campaign and request their assistance.

If you are able to identify the senders, a good law firm may be able to assist you in taking action against the spammers.

How can I find out who is sending the spam?

Unfortunately, this is very difficult to do. Typically, stock spammers go to great lengths to conceal their identities. In other kinds of spam the spammer has to provide some point of contact - an email address, a website, a phone number - in order to make money. The stock spammer doesn't. He just needs to get their message with your company's name on it seen by as many people as possible. The actual email message contains no information that can be traced back to the spammer.

The SEC has investigators who monitor stock spam. They have access to information that may not be available to you, including information about activity at market makers and monitoring of Internet communications. Their investigations sometimes eventually lead to prosecutions, but they work on their own timetable and it's unclear whether they'll be willing to share what they know with you.

Should I promote my company via spam?

No. Spam is extremely bad for your business. It is a 100% certainty that sending spam will do you more harm than good. Promoting your stock via spam is generally illegal; promoting your products or services makes your company look dishonest and probably fraudulent, and will damage your reputation forever.

How can I prevent spammers from sending spam advertising my stock?

The short answer is that you can't. The worst aspect of stock spam is that any company, even the most honest, can be a victim.

One thing you can and should do is to be very careful when you choose a marketing firm or agency to represent you. I've heard of a number of cases of marketing firms sending spam without the knowledge or approval of the company they were supposedly representing (and then leaving the company to clean up the resultant mess). In many of these cases, lawsuits followed. I've also heard it suggested that some companies providing financial backing for small startup companies may 'recommend' a marketing firm which then sends spam, giving the backers a quick return on their investment (if the spamming campaign succeeds) at the expense of the long-term success of the startup company.

When you sign a contract with a marketing firm, make it a condition that they should only send email or faxes to recipients who have asked to receive them. Any sending of unsolicited messages should constitute a breach of their contract with you and expose them to legal penalties.

Some marketers will tell you that they send only to subscribers who have 'opted-in' to receive mail. Ask them how their opt-in process works and what records they keep to prove that the recipients really requested their mail. The preferred method is known as 'confirmed opt-in' or 'closed-loop opt-in': Spamhaus has a good explanation of how this should work.

Incidentally, spammers sometimes refer to 'confirmed opt-in' as 'double opt-in' to try to suggest that it is somehow onerous and troublesome. Be suspicious of any marketing firm that talks about 'double opt-in'.

Hope it helps!
The Web Team
Qwoter.com

Deez

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Re: Spam Advice for companies
« Reply #1 on: January 15, 2008, 10:11:13 AM »

How can I prevent being listed as a spammer?

Most "false positives" (legitimate messages accidentally identified as spam) occur from bulk mailing list type mailings, and not from an actual personalized email message. Is your company sending bulk emails or newsletters?

There are two main reasons why you may be marked as a spammer:

1. The recipient doesn't remember signing up, and reports your messages as spam.

Sometimes, while using an online service, purchasing goods online, or filling out a form to enter a contest, the sender is not aware or has forgotten they have subscribed to a mailing list. When the recipient starts receiving mailing list messages, they may not remember explicitly subscribing and therefore report the emails as spam.

Sometimes a company will change names and, although the recipient was happy to receive the mailings before, doesn't recognize that the continued mailings are from the same company, thereby reporting the messages as spam.

2. The sender is using a mailing list service that has been blacklisted.

Most mailing list type services offer a link tracking service, which replaces your domain name in the message with that of the tracking domain. This allows you to track who clicked on your links, but it also masks your domain name and forces you to include a third party domain name in your email message. Since most mailing list type services have problems with spammers signing up to use their service, this link tracking URL will probably have appeared in some spam and could be blacklisted. You could end up getting your messages blocked by including this third party domain name in your email messages.

If too much spam is seen coming from the mailing list service's mail servers, the IP addresses of those mail servers could be added to blacklists of known spammers. If your recipients are subscribed to these blacklists, all email from the blacklisted servers could be identified as spam, regardless of content. "Too much" spam from these mail servers could, for example, could be triggered by just one out of 1,000 recipients forgetting that they subscribed to a mailing list.

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Things a mailing list service can do to prevent from being listed as a spammer:

1. Ensure that there is a web site at these link tracking URLs that indicates what mailing service owns it.
2. Ensure that your senders include a statement that says why the recipient is receiving the message (where and when they subscribed).
3. Include a link where the recipient can unsubscribe as well as report it as abuse to the mailing service's abuse department (roving.com is now doing this as well as several others).
4. Make sure that the subject of the mailing list message is not misleading, and indicates subscription. For example, "blah blah Newsletter for September" as opposed to "Check out this great deal!"
5. Don't allow your users to import email lists, and maintain records of confirmed opt in requests.

Following these five things will allow our analysts to recognize that this message that has been reported as spam may actually be the result of a legitimate subscription. Additionally, it will allow us to quickly recognize a link tracking URL as belonging to a mailing list service (with good policies), and not the actual spammer's URL.

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Things companies or mailing list owners can do to prevent from being listed as a spammer:

1. Do only confirmed opt-in, and keep all records of IP addresses and dates of the confirmation process, to both prevent and dispute spam complaints.
2. Ensure that you include a statement that says why the recipient is receiving the message (where and when they subscribed).
3. Include a link where the recipient can unsubscribe by clicking on it.
4. Make sure that the subject of the mailing list message is not misleading, and indicates subscription. For example, "blah blah Newsletter for September" as opposed to "Check out this great deal!"
5. Ask your recipients to whitelist your newsletter at the time that they subscribe.

Following these five things will allow our analysts to recognize that this message that has been reported as spam may actually be the result of a legitimate subscription.

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CAN-SPAM Compliance

Even if your messages are CAN-SPAM compliant, they can still be considered Unsolicited Bulk Email, which is the term we use to define spam. Even if a recipient has sent you queries or is a current customer, it is highly recommend that you include an unsubscribe link at the bottom of any sales follow-up or advertisement related messages. It is also good to remind them of how you got their information.

Unsubscribe links that the recipient simply has to click on are less likely to result in a spam complaint. Unsubscribe links are also less likely to get you listed as a spammer by our analysts. On the other hand, if you require your users to send in a postcard or send an email to unsubscribe, the decision as to whether or not you are a spammer is more likely to go against you. This is particularly true if you state that the recipient must send an email from the email address that is subscribed, but you don't state the email address you sent to. These are all considered part of "good subscription policies".
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