Monday, May 25, 2015

What happens when you protect yourself from email spam

As an angry English woman would say, I don't like spam. Therefore, I am quite happy when my email services incorporate a mechanism to auto-detect spam, place it in a junk mail folder, and allow you to review the junk mail to make sure it's not legit (if you're quick enough; the junk mail folder is emptied automatically).

However, there are other systems to keep spam out of your email folder, as I discovered one day.

That day, I was responding to an email that someone - let's call him Clark Kent - sent to me. In his original email, Kent cc'ed several people, one of whom I will refer to as Jimmy Olsen.

When I sent my reply to Clark, I immediately received something from Jimmy - sort of.

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.

I clicked on the link, which sent me to an external spam protection service, and was asked to do two things.

1. Promise Scout's honor that I would never ever send unsolicited email to Mr. Olsen.
2. Enter a response to a CAPTCHA test.

Sounds simple - except that I entered the CAPTCHA response incorrectly (gray letters on a gray background can be hard to read), and therefore had to do it again.

What if I had chosen not to enter it again? What if I had decided, "To heck with Jimmy Olsen, I'll just deal with Clark Kent"?

Jimmy, relieved that he wasn't getting any more 419 scam emails, would never know the difference.