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Stop Unsubscribing to Emails! It Opens You to Attack

Andy Mowat
March 9, 2021

Why should you hold back from hitting the ‘Unsubscribe’ button


When you get an email you don’t want, it is so easy and tempting to click “unsubscribe.”  Just tell the marketer you don’t want to hear from them again and they will stop, right?

Unfortunately, while most legitimate marketers will quickly stop sending emails, the risks from a single untrustworthy sender are too great.  When you click unsubscribe, you:

  • Confirm your email is active:  A spammer can then sell your “live” email to all of their spammer friends.  You are likely to receive 100x more spam.  It’s better to remain silent.
  • Give away your virtual identity: By clicking on an unsubscribe link, you let senders know your location and operating system. You also allow them to cookie you, so they can track you across the web.
  • Expose yourself to malware:  An innocuous-looking unsubscribe link could allow a spammer to install software on your computer.

So, as a user-focused company with an advisor team that is deeply experienced in the world of email, it’s our strong recommendation to avoid clicking that ‘Unsubscribe’ button.


What can you do instead, to protect yourself and your inbox?

  • Mark an email as spam:  If you receive email that you truly didn’t opt into, marking that email as spam is a legitimate approach that puts a stop to the thread and punishes the sender.  Unfortunately, it may unfairly impact well-meaning senders who would otherwise simply let you opt-out. 
  • Use a third-party service:  Companies like Unroll.me and Unsubscriber do this in bulk and know the ecosystem well.  However, you have to give these businesses access to your inbox, which means they could potentially sell your information to other marketers.  Unroll.me, in particular, faced backlash in 2017 when customers learned that their data was sold to Uber to track whether people had been using competitor Lyft.
  • Stop unwanted emails from even reaching your inbox:  Gated is a unique new solution that actually diverts unwanted email from ever reaching your inbox in the first place.  When a Gated user receives an email from an unknown sender (or spam), that message is held in a separate folder and a sender must make a donation to the user’s charity of choice to deliver their message. This means that the only messages you’ll see are from people you know, or those who value your time enough to pay.  On average, Gated reduces email inbox volume by nearly half.   

Just like canceling a credit card, unsubscribing from emails certainly feels like a smart way to refresh, clean house, and simplify; but, similarly, both strategies can have negative repercussions for the user.  We hope these suggestions help you on your journey to a cleaner, safer, more productive inbox!