I received several automated emails at an early hour from several data brokers (e.g., Spokeo) asking me to confirm an opt-out for my email address and name. I did not request these, but did so about 2 years ago from most data brokers, and accidentally clicked on one of the links. The originating email address as well as the domain/IP from the email server look legitimate and the links go to the appropriate domain.

I am somewhat concerned because it happened within a short period on several brokers that ostensibly are separately owned, suggesting a human may have done this manually. On the other hand, it seems more strange the malicious. Is there any reason a malicious third party might be doing this?

  • What personal information did they ask for / did you provide in response to the email? – Mike Ounsworth May 1 '15 at 16:25
  • Nothing other than clicking on a clickback link to confirm the opt out – user73644 May 1 '15 at 16:26
  • Run a virus scan? – Mike Ounsworth May 1 '15 at 16:26
  • 1
    possible duplicate of Phishing email from Avast - Headers look totally legit? – Eric G May 1 '15 at 21:11
  • Did you sign up with some kind of unsubscribing service? Or did you make an enemy of someone who entered your email into an unsubscribing service; perhaps an ex-someone? – John Deters Feb 26 '16 at 1:50


Maybe - and this is a fat maybe - someone is trying to desensitize you to clicking on opt-out links so that you get trained to click through any link you get for protecting your privacy.

What do you do?

Nothing. If you didn't request the email, then don't click it.

What's the threat of clicking on a link? (and how do you protect yourself)

  1. someone could try to exploit vulnerabilities.

    • patch your browser
    • turn off javascript
    • don't click on unknown links
  2. You could fill out a form and give away information

    • don't do that.
    • Type in the url for the site you want to login to.
    • check the certificate, etc.
  3. If you didn't request the email, then don't click it.


There is also a possibility that a spammer may trick you into clicking an "opt-out" link just to confirm that the e-mail address is valid (and can be abused in the future).

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