deliverability
Created on:
January 1, 2014

A word on Spamtraps

At BriteVerify we’re often asked if we remove spamtraps from our users’ email databases.  Typically the question takes the following form: “We’re evaluating verification services.  Competitors X and Y provide trap filters.  Does BriteVerify provide trap filters as well?”

The short answer is no and we lose business because of it.  However, a topic as important as spamtraps deserves more than one question and checkbox on an email verification RFP.  If you’re considering providers that provide trap filters you owe it to yourself to dig a bit deeper.

While there are different types of spamtraps, the most impactful ones are created by ISPs and anti-spam agencies to identify organizations that acquire email addresses using nefarious methods.  Aiding in the removal of these traps is in conflict with our mission.

Verification providers that claim to remove these traps are unable to make a commitment to comprehensive trap removal.  Statements that claim to “remove known spamtraps” imply a partial solution at best.  We recently received an email about a provider that claimed to ‘remove all Spamhaus traps.’  The company that trusted this vendor was blacklisted after mailing their ‘verified data’ because they hit too many traps.

To gain a true understanding of exactly what value a provider can deliver to the spamtrap discussion add the following questions to your RFP:

1. Can you remove 100% ISP-generated traps on my list?

Reason to ask: ISPs NEVER disclose which email addresses are traps.  The credibility of a provider that claims to remove all ISP traps should be closely examined.

2.  Can you remove all spamtraps created by the anti-spam agencies (ex. Spamhaus)?

Reason to ask: Anti-spam agencies use traps for specific purposes.  Disclosing a list of their traps would undermine these purposes.  Again, a YES to this question should lead the questions of credibility.

3. From where do you obtain your trap addresses?

Reason to ask: An answer of “we can’t disclose our sources” is not an acceptable.  The purpose of this question is to allow you to get comfortable with the credibility of your provider.  Probe as deeply as you can on this one.

4. If we select you as a provider and still hit traps what kind of recourse do we have?

Reason to ask: The answer will be NONE.  If you probe further the discussion will help you get a better understanding of whether the provider in question is truly committed to your success or if they are simply out to generate revenues.

In closing, BriteVerify supports anti-spam efforts run by ISPs and agencies like Spamhaus and Project Honeypot and does not supply tools to subvert these initiatives.  These initiatives are good for our ecosystem and a part of the fabric of email best practices.  You can learn more about the different types of spamtraps and their effects here.

James McLachlan
James McLachlan is a co-founder of BriteVerify, which is the global leader in email address verification and helps over 35,000 customers in 150 countries collect better data and run smarter campaigns around the world.