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Blog Fraud/Identity Theft

Is it safe to unsubscribe from that email?

Fraud/Identity Theft
Is it safe to unsubscribe from that email?

Your email inbox is probably loaded with offers from a boatload of different companies. Hitting unsubscribe seems like the easiest way to reduce your clutter. But is that always the safest option?

If you’re reading this, you probably signed up to receive emails from Arsenal Credit Union. Thank you so much for doing that! We truly appreciate it. It’s an awesome way to communicate special offers, financial tips and events happening at the credit union with you.

But, with all of the special promotions, limited-time offers and freebies floating around the internet, you probably subscribe to more email senders than you know what to do with. You’ll probably even receive emails from senders you don’t even remember subscribing to. Hitting that unsubscribe button at the bottom of an email seems satisfying at first, but it can end up hurting you in the long run.

“Unsubscribing” from a sender who is legitimately trying to contact or market to you is generally safe. “Unsubscribing” from a fraudulent email may leave you open to more spam, malware and more phishing attacks.

Spammers are looking for active email accounts

Spam comes in many different forms

When spammers send their emails, they aren’t targeting you specifically for things like special offers from Target or lower rates on life insurance. Their main goal is to see if your email address is active. By sending out mass emails to random lists of addresses, they can count on some people clicking links within. From there, they can target those email addresses and keep sending spam emails indefinitely.

If the sender asks you to reply back to unsubscribe from their list, never do it. When you reply back, the spammer can tell what email software you’re using and gather even more information about you.

The “unsubscribe” button may take you to a fake website

By clicking “unsubscribe” on a spam email, you may be directed to a new website in a new browser window. This is the holy grail for spammers. When you visit this site, they can now track you across the internet with cookies. They will have information on your location, operating system, browser and browsing habits.

The worst-case-scenario from clicking on a spammy “unsubscribe” link is that you get malware downloaded onto your computer. You don’t even have to click anything on the website to be a victim of a drive-by download.

Ignore, delete and block

The best course of action to take with spam emails is to ignore, delete and block. If you see a weird subject line from an unknown sender, just delete it right away. If the emails keep piling up, try to block that sender from further contacting you.

Avoid spam in the first place

Spam happens. There are a couple of ways you can help prevent a lot of it, though.

  • Don’t display your email in public: Spam bots search through forums, blog posts and social media to find email addresses to add to their lists. By not posting it in public, you will help keep yourself from receiving it.
  • Choose a unique address: Spammers create lists of common first and last name combinations and send their messages to anyone and everyone. Having a unique email address helps keep you from randomly receiving spam.
  • Create two email accounts: If you like to sign up for a lot of offers, consider creating an email address just for them. Have a dedicated personal account for any personal and important emails you want to receive.

Here’s how to safely report spam using the most common email providers


The largest email providers are aware of how many spam emails get sent every day. Each has a list of steps you can take to mark emails as spam and block the sender from delivering you more unwanted email.

You can also use a service to help you safely unsubscribe

This list does not indicate an endorsement for these programs and services. Some of these companies may charge for their services, while some may collect your personal data. Please read the terms of agreement before opting into any service.