Why SpamArrest and Similar Tools Are A Bad Idea

By Daniel Scocco

spamarrest email

Another day I was contacting a group of bloggers and webmasters to propose them a joint venture on a small project. I sent over 20 emails, and one of those bounced back, with a message from SpamArrest. It said something like this:

I’m protecting myself from receiving junk mail.

Please click the link below to complete the verification process.
You have to do this only once.

After you click on the link that they send you, you will still need to type some letters on a CAPTCHA. Overall the process is pretty annoying and time consuming, and the first thing that comes into my mind when I see people using SpamArrest and similar tools is: Why the heck do I have to do with your spam filter?

Needless to say that I did not take the trouble to confirm the email I had sent to that guy. I wanted to get in touch, but I was not desperate for it.

If you are using one of those manual spam blocking tools that requires some action from the sender, there is a high chance that you are losing emails and messages along the way. Sure, if someone has something vital to send to you, they will bear the hassle of clicking the link and the CAPTCHA.

But there are many cases where the other end has something to offer to you, but if there are obstacles to getting in touch with you, he will just drop it off. Suppose a potential advertiser wants to know your ad rates. Should he get an annoying SpamArrest email in response to his inquire, I am sure that he will just shop on the next blog on his list, and you end up losing some money.

The takeaway message is: use a spam filter that does the work on your end, and not one that requires the sender to manually confirm his messages. It is 2008 folks, come on!



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49 Responses to “Why SpamArrest and Similar Tools Are A Bad Idea”

  • Emily

    I hate Spam Arrest. I work for a non-profit organization and every time we send out our e-newsletter (which requires users to visit our website to sign themselves up for, and which always contains easy unsubscribe links), the reply-to address gets a handful of these. I don’t have the option of ignoring them – it’s important to my organization (and my boss) that everyone who signed up for the newsletter receives it – so I have to spend time each week jumping through hoops just to deliver our newsletter to people who asked to receive it!

    Also, as someone who is suspicious of bots, when I first started this job and began seeing these in the inbox, I was highly suspicious that it was an email virus designed to seek out active email addresses (ie, any email address that clicks the link and completes the verification process outs themselves to spammers as a valid email with a human reading it). I am sure I am not the only one who this thought occurred to.

  • David

    Wonder how many confused “challenge” users there are who wonder why their bank, phone company and other businesses they use over the web are sending them “forgot my password” or other notifications.

    Sending an automated message to challenge a user may seem sensible, but many emails these are days are from webapps you’ve signed up for, but now don’t get anything from them and probably think they suck. And if you have to wade through a “quarantine” area to find such missed emails, what’s the point?

  • David

    What a whiny bunch of babies :p :-). The way most of you guys are complaining you’d think you guys were being asked to submit 1000 word essays. It takes like 15 seconds to click on the link and enter the word. I’ve done it and I totally understand that the reason I am doing it is to fight spammers.

    I agree it’s not ideal and personally I do not use it. However I understand what it’s like to be so bombarded with spam that you are losing hours out of every week dealing with it.

    That said, one of the issues I have with it is that if it every becomes widespread at some point all sorts of phishing scams are going to develop over it. And as it is, a lot of neophytes may not respond to the challenge email because they’ll be afraid its a scam and won’t know the difference.

  • Rick

    In my first comment on this thread back in August, 2008, I indicated that I was using Spam Arrest and very happy about it.

    So we’re coming up on two years later (this summer, a few months away). I’m still using Spam Arrest and VERY SATISFIED with it. It’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made regarding my productivity.

    Until you’ve been SPAM-FREE, you forget how good it is. Two years later, I’m virtually SPAM-FREE – thanks to SpamArrest!

    So, I still disagree with this post, as originally stated. I also love Spam Arrest and highly-recommend it.

  • hugh

    I’ve had my email address for 15 years now. Over that time unsolicited mail (Spam) has built continuously. It is an invasion of privacy and I decided to do something about it. I love Spam Arrest. It works 100%. No more Spam, zippo, nada, nichts!! Wonderful!!

    Now, if I could just do the same with all the junk mail the mail carrier delivers!!!

  • Adrian Garry

    I only have a normal hotmail account and i recently signed up to spam arrest.. all my mail has disappeared into the spam arrest account.. how do i get all my previous mail back into my hotmail account.. i don’t particularly want the spam arrest account, just signed up because i was trying to contact somebody and it pointed me into that direction..
    Please help..

  • soony

    I used spamarrest in the past, i use to get in the unveryfied folder of spamarrest around 80 to 100 spam emails a day, as well as some good mails from friends and costumers that did not do the captcha, that made me spend quite alot of time on logging in the spamarrest everyday and check that no good emails were trapped in that folder, I decided to sign for spamfigher.

    The funny thing is… I am still a spam arrest costumer, but I have not one of my email addresses protected with spamarrest, and still I get in the unveryfied folder around 80 to 100 spam emails a day?!?.

    Where do this spam come from? it is send directly to spamarrest? does the company send its own spam? I get now around 20 spam emails a day directly from my server with my 4 email addresses, 4 times less than in the unveryfied folder of spamarrest without not any of my emails protected.

    Can someone answer this?.

  • clare higson

    I am just an ordinary middle aged woman who hates spam – i used to get a lot and it clogged up my inbox and took loads of time – now i use spam arrest and its brilliant. I don’t work there, nor do i lose new clients and nor am i paranoid – i just don’t like unsolicited emails taing up my day – i can’t believe the nonsense that some people have written . . . . if everyone used spam filters the spammers would eventually have to find something else to do with their day . . .

  • Jen

    Are you kidding? It takes 7 seconds to confirm your email. I signed up for spamaerest after several people I had emailed had it sent to me for confirmation. I thought it was great. If you are too lazy to confirm your emai (again it takes 7 seconds)l, you must not have anything important to say.

    Complaining about authorizing your email address is like complaining that you have to leave a voicemail when someone does not pick up.

  • Jef

    I have also used spamarrest for years, and unfortunately I do not trust the alternatives. I receive thousands of spam emails every month, and there is no easy way to notify all my correspondents reliably of an email change. Maybe some day I will dump all my old email addresses and come up with a new set, but I think that would be damaging to my business.

    If recruiters want me to work on a job, they will go through the short process of responding to the CAPTCHA. At least that way they have a chance to be seen – those fully automatic spam filters flag too much legitimate email as spam. I don’t trust them.

  • Jan O

    I have used SpamArrest for years. I disabled the Challenge/Response (Options>Filtering) and now receive all email in SpamArrest’s Unverified–except for white-listed and blocked addresses. I like using SA as my first “inbox” and can view emails from people who don’t like the challenge. I can easily eliminate/block unwanted email. Outlook inbox gets all the white-listed email and anything I authorize.

    Lately, however, SpamArrest is “leaking” emails to my Outlook Inbox that are neither authorized or white-listed. I have asked for help with this from SpamArrest, but have not had good results yet. What good is SpamArrest if some of the spam gets through?

  • Yaakov Moreh

    “Another day I was contacting a group of bloggers and webmasters to propose them a joint venture on a small project.”

    If it was important enough to you and you valued the person who you were contacting enough you would have taken the 5 seconds to register with smammarrest once. If they weren’t important enough to you, as you were sending them info on this great opportunity you wanted to sell them on, then in my opinion you are in the targeted demographic that spamarrest is trying to filter out… “spammers” by definition–blanket emails where the sender places no individual emphasis on the receiver, is looking for financial gain through their contact with the target, and is sending out to a group of people with the hopes of closing with a small % of them.

  • Samantha

    Spam Arrest claims to stop spam, but what it is actually doing is using a worm to contact all of your contacts in your distribution list once you click its link or sign up.

    You may not be aware this is happening as the sent mails aren’t recorded. Our IT department found that it was happening and we immediately took action.

    We deal with several suppliers internationally and are now having to clean up this incident.

    It also searches your email and grabs legitimate subject lines from other emails you’ve sent so the mass mail looks correct and is more likely to prompt people to trust it.

    It perpetuates itself like any other email worm using altered/rearranged email addresses and mass mail, and is difficult to contain. Please do not use SpamArrest and please don’t click links that are sent to you in emails.

    Virus programs and Gmail filters may not catch it, because they can’t stop you from clicking a link.

    Spam Arrest emails come with a standard email body of: “Im protecting myself from receiving junk mail.” If you see this please delete it immediately.

    Please also keep in mind that the majority of the people giving Spam Arrest “good reviews” mostly likely work there. Thanks.

    • Nick

      I had to wait a while before responding to this post. I was wating to stop laughing so hard so that I could actually type.

      First and foremost, if your IT actually thinks that SpamArrest uses a worm then please let me know the name of your company and the names of your IT personnel. I would like to know this so that I will never deal with your company or accidently one day hire someone from your IT department.

      I don’t believe you have a full concept of how spam, scams, and worms work. What I believe you encountered was, yes, a worm. However, as has been posted here already, scammers and spammers utilize many ways to make their correspondances to look legit.

      Every day I get emails that claim it’s from Facebook, Twitter, Wachovia Bank (even though I’ve never had a bank account with him nor know anyone who has), etc. What you probably encountered was a phishing email that was designed to look exactly like the SpamArrest default challenge response.

      The con artists hope you recognize this email or at least trust it. When you click on the link you are probably accessing a website that will automatically download/install a worm or trojan on your computer and/or network.

      This program then, as you say, searches for legitimate subject headings, then it proceeds to replicate itself by sending out the same message or similar that you received and sends it out to people in your addressbook or contact list.

      However, SpamArrest does NOT send out worms. If your IT people really believe this was the doing of SpamArrest then this tells me that your IT people obviously need to get an education in the basics of network security.

  • Rick

    Still SPAM FREE!! (a year later)… using Spam Arrest

    Take that spammers!

    P.S. Phil, don’t knock it if you haven’t tried it

  • medyum

    The prepared reports munges, or blanks, your email address for protection from spam-friendly ISPs.This practice has nearly eliminated any spam for me. I used to get over 100/day, now I get less than 20. Sometimes, less than 10. I’d rather report spammers than simply filter them.

  • Andy

    I totally agree. I recently booked a hotel room through an online service and have since received spurious MAILER-DAEMON Failure responses to email I didn’t send, as well as that annoying: “ I’m protecting myself from receiving junk mail. Please click the link below to complete the verification process.(I will not thanks) You have to do this only once. “ from someone I have not emailed and don’t know. I would really like to see these people go away and STOP SPAMMING ME! Sorry about the yelling there, I really hate spammers. The attitude in the letter they sent you is a little demonstrable of who they are as well.

  • Nick

    I have used SpamArrest before. I really don’t see what the fuss is about in regards to clicking a link. Have people gotten that lazy? It seems that some people here have their time that is so very precious to them that they can’t take literally 45 seconds or less to click on a link.

    Sure, people can create a new email address. For me I own my own domain. Why should I kill my personal email account on my domain because of fraudsters and spammers from China?

    There are only a couple instances where I can see SpamArrest would be legitimately annoying:

    1.) Someone sends me an email via my website and when I go reply to it I have to confirm. When I would email someone via their website I would add their domain to the white list so they would have have to deal with that.

    2.) A person signs up for a service through my website and their billing contact address is using SpamArrest. Once again, they should add the domain to their white list.

    I literally get over 100 spams a day in my personal Inbox. 98% of them are an embedded image trying to sell me some Viagra from China.

    As for Yahoo’s spam filtering it is crap. Not only does it filter out legitimate mail but it blocks it without even telling me. One of the companies I used for domain registration was GKG.net. I had forgotten my password. I used the automated system to reset my password. I never received the reset email.

    I continually checked my Bulk folder and never received anything. Finally I completely disabled the spam filtering feature then low and behold I finally received the email after requesting again. For some reason Yahoo was completely blocking the legitimate email. It didn’t bounce the email, just block it. This is even though I had never set anything to block emails or reject them.

    I didn’t even bother contacting Yahoo! because in the numerous years online I have found that they hire idiots that don’t understand basic Internet technology.

  • Adrian

    I’m a spamarrest customer and over the moon!
    I was receiving 10000 …… yes 10000 spam emails per month before i implimented spamarrest.
    My main point : I for one cannot offer you as a customer the service you want if i have to wade through 11000 emails to discover approx 1000 good ones! Its time wasting, and costly to receive.
    If you as a customer can’t recognise the necessity to reduce spam for your benifit in the long run, maybe you’re not the customer i need. if yo uare too lazy to verify (and many are) I’m checking the server for unverified emails that are legit.
    the only spam we now receive is manual ie a little chinaman physically goes through the verification, only to a result of me manually banning him!
    Its not a flawless program, but it certainly makes my life much easier.
    No other method of spam filtering can prevent spam making it to my server and ultimately to my inbox.
    I can understand all of your gripes, and if i lose you as a customer that’s a pity (for you and I), but the reality is that my time is precious too. A few minutes of your time, saves hours of mine.

Comments are closed.