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FAQ Friday: Can Experian Data Quality Remove Spam Traps From My List?

Rachel Gianfredi Archive
Experian Data Quality is a proud active member of the email community, and we are well aware of the various behaviors (good and bad) that exist in the industry. We have many people come to us to ask that we "catch their spam traps" or "make sure that spam traps are not in their lists".  This is a great request, and we do identify some spam traps, however, we are not an exhaustive spam trap identification service.  Spam traps are designed to look just like regular email addresses so there's no possible way to identify all of them, even though there are some companies that claim to be able to do so. We're here to lay it out for you.
You ask: What is a spam trap and can Experian Data Quality remove them from my list?
It is important to clarify that a person who reports a message as spam is not a spam trap. A spam trap is a special address, not associated with an actual human being, that is monitored by software with the express purpose of seeing who sends unsolicited mail to it. They are typically placed on websites, for harvesting programs to (illegally) pick up. They are never subscribed to mailing lists (although addresses at domains that have been disabled for at least a few years are often repurposed as traps).
There are essentially three types of spam traps:
  1. Typo Traps:  Email addresses at mistyped domains, which Spamhaus and others are monitoring for senders who do not use confirmed opt-in.
  2. Honey Pots:  Email addresses created by anti-spam organizations such as Spamhaus, which were never used legitimately, and monitored by those organizations for spam.
  3. Recycled Traps: Spam traps that were originally valid email addresses, but have been recycled by the ISPs to identify senders with poor hygiene practices.

Regarding the first two types, ISPs and anti-spam organizations do everything in their power to protect the identity of their spam traps, and furthermore, are always adding new ones.  Therefore, it is literally impossible to identify all recycled traps and honey pots, or even a significant number of them.  Rather than make a misleading claim, we tell folks that we can identify some traps, but Experian Data Quality is not an exhaustive spam trap identification service.  

Regarding typo traps, we do actually identify most mistyped domains as invalid (even if they are deliverable).  Ideally, you would want to prompt people who enter a mistyped domain at the point of collection to re-enter their email address.

Our strength is really in determining whether or not the email address is valid and deliverable.  We are more accurate and faster than anyone else in the email validation space.

It is impossible to identify spam traps at scale, nor with any certainty.  Organizations such as Spamhaus and the ISPs go to great lengths to avoid senders identifying their traps.  They are also constantly adding new ones.  Other list hygiene companies make inflated claims in this area, but the only surefire way to avoid traps is to know how your addresses are collected and where, and make sure you are mailing addresses at least every six months.

To catch 100% of spam traps, you should use confirmed opt-in.