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Opinion: Buying an email list? Beware of scams

Opinion: Buying an email list? Beware of scams

By Greg Gerber
Editor, RV Daily Report

Hardly a day goes by in which I don’t receive at least two emails offering to sell me a list of RV owner email addresses, but I have to wonder whether the offers are legitimate because the offers are masked behind multiple email addresses and company names.

In the past 30 days, I have received nearly identical emails from:

  • ariddle@aimdigitalpros.com
  • pmccrea@aimdigitalpros.com — seven messages
  • rhaynes@aimdigitalpros.com
  • bhoover@aimdigitalpros.com
  • htassone@aimdigitalpros.com
  • swyatt@immaculateprospects.net
  • nathanp@immaculateprospects.net

It appears that “Aim Digital Pros” is a prospecting arm of “Immaculate Prospects.”  People who reply to spam from Aim Digital Pros are then peppered with messages from Immaculate Prospects.”  In fact, the aimdigitalpros.com doesn’t even register as a website.

Attempts to contact Immaculate Prospects to find out why the company is spamming its potential customers have gone unanswered.

The spam messages offer an “RV Owners List from USA” and notes the firm also has “data for Hiking Enthusiasts List, Outdoor and Camping Enthusiasts Lis, Cruise Travelers, Fishing Enthusiasts, Scuba Dives List, Food Lovers, Horse racing Enthusiasts, Time-Share Owners, spa and Resort Visitors, Entertainment Enthusiasts and many more.”

If spammers would ever learn English and proper spelling, they’d be exceptionally dangerous.

The company explains that “each record in the list contains Contact Name (First, Middle and Last Name), Mailing Address, List type and Opt-in email address. All the contacts are opt-in verified, 100% permission based and can be used for unlimited multi-channel marketing.”

Yet, a company that specializes in securing email lists apparently has no clue as to the requirements of the CAN-SPAM Act enforced by the Federal Trade Commission.

Each separate email in violation of the CAN-SPAM Act is subject to penalties of up to $16,000, so non-compliance can be costly. But following the law isn’t complicated. Here’s a rundown of CAN-SPAM’s main requirements:

  1. Don’t use false or misleading header information. Your “From,” “To,” “Reply-To,” and routing information – including the originating domain name and email address – must be accurate and identify the person or business who initiated the message.
  2. Don’t use deceptive subject lines. The subject line must accurately reflect the content of the message.
  3. Identify the message as an ad. The law gives you a lot of leeway in how to do this, but you must disclose clearly and conspicuously that your message is an advertisement.
  4. Tell recipients where you’re located. Your message must include your valid physical postal address. This can be your current street address, a post office box you’ve registered with the U.S. Postal Service, or a private mailbox you’ve registered with a commercial mail receiving agency established under Postal Service regulations.
  5. Tell recipients how to opt out of receiving future email from you. Your message must include a clear and conspicuous explanation of how the recipient can opt out of getting email from you in the future. Craft the notice in a way that’s easy for an ordinary person to recognize, read, and understand. Creative use of type size, color, and location can improve clarity. Give a return email address or another easy Internet-based way to allow people to communicate their choice to you. You may create a menu to allow a recipient to opt out of certain types of messages, but you must include the option to stop all commercial messages from you. Make sure your spam filter doesn’t block these opt-out requests.
  6. Honor opt-out requests promptly. Any opt-out mechanism you offer must be able to process opt-out requests for at least 30 days after you send your message. You must honor a recipient’s opt-out request within 10 business days. You can’t charge a fee, require the recipient to give you any personally identifying information beyond an email address, or make the recipient take any step other than sending a reply email or visiting a single page on an Internet website as a condition for honoring an opt-out request. Once people have told you they don’t want to receive more messages from you, you can’t sell or transfer their email addresses, even in the form of a mailing list. The only exception is that you may transfer the addresses to a company you’ve hired to help you comply with the CAN-SPAM Act.
  7. Monitor what others are doing on your behalf. The law makes clear that even if you hire another company to handle your email marketing, you can’t contract away your legal responsibility to comply with the law. Both the company whose product is promoted in the message and the company that actually sends the message may be held legally responsible.

In the past 10 days, I have sent 10 different demands to be unsubscribed from the list, and yet the spam keeps pouring in.

The bottom line is that RV dealers and campground owners who are tempted to buy email lists from AIM Digital Pros or Immaculate Prospects should do so at their own risk. Chances are good that companies that don’t comply with the CAN-SPAM Act in soliciting business are probably violating the law’s opt-in requirements, too.

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About Greg Gerber

Greg Gerber is the editor and founder of RV Daily Report. A native of Madison, Wis., he moved to Phoenix in 2009 to escape the endless winters and wicked humidity of the six-week "summer" season. He's a DODO -- Dad of Daughter's Only -- who would crawl across the desert on his hands and knees for an In-N-Out Double Double. He has visited every state except Hawaii and is anxiously waiting for some RV company to host a conference in the Aloha State.

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