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Did You Know?

Unsolicited Commercial E-mail is illegal in some states? Find out what laws exist in your state.


This is a term that many find synonymous with Email Spam. But is it really Spam? That is somewhat subjective.

Bulk Email is a marketing "technique" that attempts to target potential consumers through their involvement in different groups around the web, including newsgroups. Marketers claim to use bulk e-mail much in the same way that coupon mailings and telephone solicitations are conducted. Is it annoying? Probably. Is it illegal? That depends...

There are those few legitimate businesses who are trying bulk e-mail to see if it reaches the desired consumers. The problem is, there is currently very little demographic information available for e-mail users. Targeting the appropriate consumers through e-mail is difficult at best.

It is important to realize that most businesses do not endorse bulk e-mail and of those few who have tried it, many quit due to overwhelming consumer complaints. Also keep in mind, if you recieved an email from a legitimate business there would be no need to for them to conceal their identity or resort to ethically questionable activities. This is where the question of whether or not unsolicited commercial e-mail is illegal comes in.

Since no federal legislation currently exists that either restricts or prohibits e-mail solicitation, many states are enacting legislation of their own. Some completely prohibit unsolicited commercial e-mail, others just regulate it. Check out our legislation section to see what anti-spam laws exist in your state.

More often than not, bulk e-mail is a result of those spammers who send out ads for fraudulent "get rich quick" and multilevel marketing schemes. If the content is offensive or illegal the Federal Trade Commission will take legal action against these individuals or organizations.

What to do if you have received unsolicited commercial email:

1. Determine the Sender. This should not be difficult if it is a legitimate commercial e-mail.

2. If you are sure the sender is a legitimate business, go ahead and follow their instructions for removing yourself from their mailing list. If you are unsure, or if opt-out instructions are not given you may contact their ISP (If you did an IP lookup this is who the IP address is usually registered to). Remember, most ISP's have policies against Spam so they are on your side. Also, it is possible that a third party could have broken into a users server and sent the e-mail without his knowlegde so give the person the benefit of the doubt! Chances are, if this is the case, they will want to work to find the abuser also!

3. If you are unable to track the source of the junk mail or have found the abuser and want to report the incident check out our section on Reporting Abuse.
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