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October 26, 2010

Reputable retail sites spam customers

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by Janet Harris

Online shopping is set to rise over Christmas and most people believe they will be safe if they stick to shopping on sites with well-known names.

However, this isn’t the case, according to spam monitoring firm Spam Ratings, which reports that 10 per cent of sites are spamming visitors with unsolicited emails.

The most worrying trend identified by Spam Ratings is that this practice is allegedly being carried out by household names such as Argos, Ticketmaster and MoneySupermarket.

The problem seems to arise from the practice of automatically opting in users into sharing their information for marketing purposes.

This is contributing to the volume of spam coming from web sites, which more than doubled between October 2009 and September 2010.

Shoppers have always been warned to read the small print before signing any agreement, and this now seems sound advice when shopping on any site, even those you think you can trust.

Sites selling on information to third parties are often exposing their customers to bogus offers from pharmaceutical and finance firms, as well as opening the door to phishing attacks and malware.

On a recent blog post, Google warned that spam from botnets is expected to surge over the Christmas season.

A new development is the practice of stealing emails from infected computers and sending them out again, infected with malware.

Because the messages look and sound genuine, computer users are more likely to click on links which are likely to go to an infected site.

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