More is Not Always Better: Spam Email Increases in 2009

Have you noticed a change in your spam box on your email? Or on your computers spam blocker system? Take a look the next time you log in to your email, you may be surprised by the increase in spam messages, but you are not the only one. Find out about the increase in spam and how it affects us all.

Considering my postings here on Identity Theft it’s no wonder that I would have my spam blocker set on high on my email as well as on my computer’s hard drive and my antivirus suite protection. It is also evidence of my high level of awareness regarding spam that I (1) have a separate email account for “junk” mail, newsletters, shopping promotions, coupons or anything else that can simply wait until I get to it and (2) that I would actually notice the number of spam email messages I receive. Imagine my surprise to note a trend since the first of the year; one that does not bode well for consumers. My spam message folder has more messages than ever before, 10 times more messages. While I would usually get about 10 a day, I am now receiving approximately 100 spam messages a day. Do I know for sure they are spam? Yes, pretty sure, but just to be safe I do at least glance through the names and subject lines prior to a quick empty of these worthless and potentially harmful messages, to my identity and my computer.
I am not the only victim of this increase in email spam and scam messages. According to MessageLabs, (a market leader in the messaging and web security market, owned by Symantec) there has been an increased number of spam and scam email fraud messages delivered since the beginning of 2009. According to MessageLabs, in the first week alone nearly 10% of all email messages carried with them some sort of hoax, similar to “Congratulations New Year Winner” or “You are a lottery winner.” This increase in scam messages is three times higher than the number of messages in 2008.
The numbers so far this year prove this increase in spam. According to MessageLabs research, spam email messages increased from 2.0% the last two weeks in December 2008 to 10.2% Jan. 1-7, 2008. It’s nice to know that my email is “average.”
“The new year means new opportunities for spammers,” says Paul Wood, Senior Analyst, MessageLabs.
What is this increase in fraudulent messages due to? One reason for the increase in spam emails may be due to the current economic climate. As more and more people find it difficult to get credit, identity thieves may also find it more difficult, and the “pickings” of those identities to steal fewer and far between, so they turn to sending out more messages. After all put out a big enough net, you are bound to catch a few fish. Another reason for the increase in these types of messages may be that people are still falling for these scams. No matter how many times it may be shown on the news (television, articles, or newspapers) many people are lured into the scheme or figure that it could never happen to them (see Old Scam has New Tricks )
Not only are there more email spam messages, but they are actually being written better. They are easier to read and the tricks to lure you into providing information or accessing a webpage are becoming more believable. Don’t be one of those who are a new victim to an old scam or caught in the net thrown out into the world of the wide wide web.