I recently started getting e-mails from a number of dating sites. At first I assumed they were random spam, but I quickly realised that someone must have registered on those sites using my email address by accident.
What was interesting was how the different sites responded to my attempts to stop the e-mails. I’ve decided to name and shame because some of the companies are clearly in breach of email spam legislation and all but one company has ignored my requests for them to cease.
The only company to respond was eHarmony, who said:
As requested, we have unsubscribed your e-mail address from [our] promotional and informative e-mail distribution list and closed the account erroneously opened with your e-mail address. We regret any inconvenience and wish you all the best.
This was, however, after 6 emails – none of which carried information about how to stop the e-mails or report the misuse of my e-mail address. I had to email them directly.
Uniform Dating nearly got it right, by sending me a “Please confirm your e-mail address” e-mail. I obviously didn’t respond to that or click to confirm my address. What should have happened was that I received no further e-mails after failing to confirm my email address. But alas, I am still receiving unsolicted e-mails from them. Again, no option provided in the e-mail to report the misuse of my email address. (Update – after emailing them directly, they finally stopped spamming me. No apology, though!)
Meanwhile, iSingles sent me the complete log-in details for their account. Luckily I’m not the type to take advantage of that sort of error, but had that e-mail gone to someone with ill motives (an identity thief, or worse), they could have done a lot of damage. Especially as some dating sites can be a popular target for con artists looking for lonely or vulnerable people to scam.
The ugliest example, though, was courtesy of a company called Plenty of Fish. As with iSingles, they sent me the username and password for the account, complete with instructions for how to access the image of the person, their profile and any personal messages. Even worse, within a few hours of registration I had received in excess of 50 messages from the site.
This is particularly bad because someone could easily set up a spoof account from a service like this and, within hours, have bombarded their victim with dozens of unsolicited and potentially distressing emails (how would you react to an e-mail declaring that “Beastofaman wants to meet you”!?) These sites are not only sending spam, but they could also be aiding and abetting e-bullying.
Can the Spam
If you own a site that requires registration, ensure that you have a process in place to ask the user to confirm their e-mail address before any further correspondence is sent – or indeed, before the account is even activated. This is common practice amongst most major sites, but if overlooked, could result in you breaching spam laws.
PS If you’re the person who has been using my Gmail address in error, please double check your spelling next time. I’m sure “Beastofaman” is wondering why you’ve not been in touch…