Skip to main content
What is spam? | BT Business

What is spam?

Spam is advertising material sent and received by email without the recipient either requesting the information or expressing an interest in the material advertised.

Just like receiving junk mail in your letterbox, spam is junk mail that arrives in your email inbox. In addition to being unwanted and annoying, spam often includes advertisements for dubious products, get-rich-quick schemes, quasi-legal services or pornography.

Unsolicited bulk email

The word 'spam' applied to email means 'unsolicited bulk email'.

  • 'Unsolicited' means that the recipient has not granted verifiable permission for the message to be sent.
  • 'Bulk' means that the message is being sent as part of a larger collection of messages, all having substantively identical content.

A message is spam only if it is both unsolicited and bulk.

Spam is an issue about consent, not content. This distinction is important because legislators spend inordinate amounts of time attempting to regulate the content of spam messages and in doing so, encounter free speech issues without realising that the spam issue is solely about the delivery method.

Some email servers/services use email content filters to quarantine spam or direct spam to 'junk' folders. You can do this with BT Business Email plus Organise and Plus Organise and Share.

How did I get on a spam list?
There are many ways that 'spammers' collect email addresses allowing them to build mailing lists. Although you need to be careful where you leave your email address - at web sites, in newsgroup posts and when chatting, sometimes you'll end up on a distribution list without even exposing your address. It's common for spammers to guess potentially valid addresses by taking a common Username and adding valid domains to it. For example, chances are there will be a "bob@" at just about any provider's domain. If you use email, chances are you're going to get spam.

Tips for reducing the amount of spam you receive:

  • Never send a reply to a spammer with a 'remove'/'unsubscribe' request. This only confirms that your address is valid, and you'll probably get even more spam.
  • Be careful about who you give your address out to.
  • Create separate email accounts, one for trusted colleagues, friends and family, and another for when you buy goods on the internet or when you post messages to public forums.
  • Configure your email client to accept email only from specified addresses.
Did this help?

Additional support