Everything You Should Know About Spam Traps and How to Avoid Them

Spam traps help to track and find spam emails and are mostly used by ISPs (Internet Service Providers) and other anti-spam organizations to attract spammers that do not suspect anything. Hence, it is called ‘honeypot.’

Tobias Foster
Tobias Foster
May 29, 2020

Spam traps are real email addresses, only that they do not belong to anybody, at least not a real person and they are also not meant for communication of any kind. The goal of these emails is to find spam emails and senders that do not use proper ‘hygiene’ for email lists. Examples are people that send emails to purchased or harvested lists.

Spam traps help to track and find spam emails and are mostly used by ISPs (Internet Service Providers) and other anti-spam organizations to attract spammers that do not suspect anything. Hence, it is called ‘honeypot.’

Although the aim of the people using spam traps is to catch spammers, there are times when legitimate email senders have fallen prey to this trap. The moment your contact list becomes infiltrated by a spam trap, your domain or IP address may be blacklisted. This then reduces the deliverability of your emails and also reduces your sending reputation.

In this article, we will discuss everything that you need to know about spam traps, including the different types of spam traps, how to avoid, find and remove one.

Types of Spam Traps

There are 3 different types of spam traps:

  • Recycled spam traps
  • Pristine spam traps
  • An email containing typos spam traps

Recycled Spam Traps

This type of spam trap comprises of domain registrations or email addresses that are no longer valid and have subsequently been turned and reused as spam traps. Examples of this type of spam traps include email addresses of a company's former employees, and role address emails such as sales@, infor@, and support@. Although their actions are quite mild relatively, they are also capable of reducing your sending reputation after a while.

Pristine Spam Traps

This type of spam trap consists of emails that are new and unused that were created by the ISPs and other anti-spam organizations. For the sake of fishing out spammers. How do you think emails like this will find their way into people's email lists since they have never been used?

Scammers very often scrape websites looking for emails that they can add to their list in order to grow it. In the process of doing this, they also scrape these spam trap emails and include them to their list. Other ways in which pristine spam traps find their ways into email contact list is through purchased or rented email contacts. So, if you are someone that uses these methods to increase your email list, you are at a risk.

When one sends an email to this spam trap, it informs and triggers the ISPs, and they then flag the email sender for building their email contact through illegitimate methods.

This spam trap is the most severe of all types of spam traps. It depletes the sender’s sending reputation and also blacklist their domain or IP address.

Email Containing Typos Spam Traps

This type of spam traps is usually an email that has a lot of common typos in it. For instance, an email might write “gnail” instead of “Gmail” and “yahoo” instead of “yahoo.” Although it might be that the sender made these typo mistakes, emails like these might as well be spam traps.

These typo spam traps are the least severe of the different spam traps. However, due to the sender’s failure to properly assess their contact list and clear it, their reputation might be on the line.

How to Prevent a Spam Trap from Infiltrating your Email List

The major reason that people fall victim to spam traps is that they fail to properly manage and maintain their email list. So, to prevent this, you must ensure that you have a healthy contact list and one way that you can do this is to adhere as much as you can to the following.

  • Do not contaminate your list

Email list contamination is the intentional or unintentional inclusion of spam traps into your email list disguising as a legitimate email address. The best thing for you to do when trying to avoid this is to cross-check and double-check your list. Check for spelling inconsistencies. Be sure that there is an email validation process with your signup forms. This will help you to verify the validity of your email contact list and also filter the typos.

Another thing that you can do is to add double opt-in for the people on your email list. This forces you to subscribe to confirm their email addresses without which they will not be receiving your emails.

The double opt-in ensures that you can cross-check your prospective email recipient to be sure that your email list contains people that can send and receive emails legitimately.

  • Avoid outdated emails

Another way for you to prevent spam traps from infiltrating your email contact is to only retain the subscribers that only engage your messages and content regularly. This is effective, especially against recycled spam traps which are from invalid or outdated email addresses. If you do not fail to send an email to a particular address for a period of time, an email like that can become a spam trap. If you also send an email to another address that hasn't been opening any of the previous ones, you just might get caught up in a spam trap.

If you have subscribers on your list that have stopped engaging with your emails for some months, do not just send the conventional emails to them, send re-engagement messages to them instead. If they still fail to engage your emails after that, then remove them from your email list as soon as possible.

  • Avoid Purchased Email Lists

There might be serious temptations for you to purchase an email list. But for any reason, as much as you can, try to stay away from doing this. This is the surest means to get your email list infiltrated with spam traps. Both of them are practically inseparable. There is also the part of you trying to engage people without an interest in what you or your brand have to offer. These people are also likely to dent your emails as spam. All of these will add up to deplete your reputation as a sender.

How to Identify a Spam Trap on Your Email Contact List

There is a possibility that your email list already has spam trap in it especially if you engage in unhealthy email list practices. To identify these spam traps, check your domain name and IP address if they have been blocked. You can use a tool such as MXToolBox, which is a trustworthy Email Blacklist checker. If they have been blocked, then your email list definitely has a spam trap.

You should also check for delivery rates. If you have a continuously decreasing email delivery rate, then that is also a pointer that there is a spam trap on your list.

There are many other tools that you can use to ensure that your email contact list is comprehensively assessed to confirm if there are spam traps in there, how a man of them, and the types present.

How to Remove Spam Traps

Well, the fact that there are spam traps on your email list does not mean that the world is ending or you can’t do well again with that email. There is a lot that you can still do with your email list. What it only means is that the time is ripe for you to clean your email list and not just clean, but also declutter it. You should, first of all, get rid of those dormant subscribers on your contact list. Run through your list, and check for those that have not engaged any of your emails in the last three months or six months and remove them totally.

That first step might or might not offer the solution that you need. To continue, implement the segmentation of your list. Segment the part of your list that you consider as the clean part from the remaining part of your list. Then re-segment that clean part until you can finally get the spam trap.

In order to avoid a hard bounce,** it is recommended that you get to verify your email list**. After you are done cleaning your email list, you do not have to bother yourself with the hard bounce, since all your recipients and everyone on your contact list are valid and real.

When you send emails only to email addresses that are real and valid, you are ensuring that your rate of delivery is high, and this will always remain good practice for marketing. You can discover email addresses that are invalid by verifying your email.


Spam traps are not meant for legitimate people or businesses but to trap scammers and spammers. But poor email list practice could make you fall, the victim. So, you should watch your practice with your email list.

Written by
Tobias Foster

Tobias Foster is a journalist and editor at UK assignment help with more than 5 years’ work experience and big ambitions. Philosophy, marketing, and business are his passion, and he has a wealth of knowledge in that field. He is a master of his craft.

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