Hide your list of email recipients

This morning I received a hoax email forward and was disgruntled, but not surprised, to discover that my friend, along with many previous senders, had made visible to each recipient the long list of other people to whom that email was forwarded. I wish my friend had checked to see if the email were true before forwarding it to me. I also very much wish she had hidden my email address from view.

There are good reasons to hide recipient’s addresses when you sent an email broadcast. Here are a few to think about:

  • Professional spammers harvest emails from forward emails showing recipient addresses
  • By forwarding email hoaxes you unwittingly become a spammer yourself
  • Your friends and family will appreciate you safeguarding their email addresses and not sending them to strangers
  • Spam accounts for a great deal of email traffic. A UK Telegraph article says spam accounts for 90% of all email traffic
  • Everybody would love to have less spam!

Q: OK, Kimi, you convinced me that I should hide recipients. Now, how do I do it?

A: Easy! Instead of putting your email recipients in the To: field, put them in the Bcc: field. Then no one will be able to see their email addresses except you – the sender.

(Note: When you do this, you don’t need to place an email address in the To: field)

In an odd twist of fate, I was amused to see that one security site uses as their example of why not to forward hoax emails, the exact email which was forwarded to me today.

Hoax Spam

These are messages that innocent people may forward to you with some kind of hoax warning or way to make a fortune. Never respond to or forward this kind of message. They are hoaxes, see real example below. If you ‘CC’ (copy in) your friends and contacts you may be providing a way for spammers to harvest the email addresses of your friends/contacts. These rubbish emails sometimes end with something like: “Try it; What have you got to lose?”

What you have to lose is your privacy and credibility!

Typical example:
Dear Friends, Please do not take this for a junk letter.
Bill Gates is sharing his fortune. If you ignore this you will repent later. Microsoft and AOL are now the largest Internet companies and in an effort to make sure that Internet Explorer remains the most widely used program, Microsoft and AOL are running an e-mail beta test. When you forward this e-mail to friends, Microsoft can and will track it (if you are a Microsoft Windows user) for a two week time period. For every person that you forward this e-mail to, Microsoft will pay you $245.00, for every person that you sent it to that forwards it on, Microsoft will pay you $243.00 and for every third person that receives it, you will be paid $241.00. Within two weeks, Microsoft will contact you for your address and then send you a cheque. I thought this was a scam myself, but two weeks after receiving this e-mail and forwarding it on, Microsoft contacted me for my address and within days, I received a cheque for US$24,800.00. You need to respond before the beta testing is over. If anyone can afford this Bill Gates is the man. It’s all marketing expense to him. Please forward this to as many people as possible. Try it; What have you got to lose????

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