Here is how it works: You sign up for a service such as Spam Arrest that uses a challenge/response system. Whenever someone sends you an email for the first time after you begin using the system, the email is not delivered to you. Instead, the sender receives an email saying that they have to click on a link, go to a website and enter a code. Only then will the email reach your inbox. If the email sender does not confirm by clicking on the link and entering the code, the email never gets to you.
Sounds great. The spammers won’t take the time to do this, so you don’t get any more spam. The problem is that
lots of people sending you email that you want will not bother to do it, either. Mystery shopping companies send out thousands of emails at a time. If they get a dozen, a hundred or a thousand challenge/response replies, they will ignore them. In fact, many of them probably have their email systems configured to send anything from challenge/response services directly to trash, so they will not even see them.
What this means is that you are going to miss out on mystery shopping opportunities. Worse, if an editor emails with a question and you do not respond, a report you completed for them might be rejected. Although they would probably call before rejecting a report, there is no guarantee that they would do so.
Of course, this goes beyond mystery shopping. Some of your friends may not understand why they are getting the challenge/response email and may ignore it. Some may be justifiably afraid to click on a link to a site they do not recognize in order to verify their identity.
There are ways to add trusted addresses so that they are not rejected or forced to go through the verification process, so you can avoid some of the problems of missing emails from family and friends. However, you are not going to easily add every possible mystery shopping company contact.
Yes, spam is a problem. But the solution is not to treat everyone—from mystery shopping companies to merchants with whom you have placed an order to your great-aunt Gerty—as a spammer. There are better ways, and I will address some of them in upcoming articles.
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