Spam Traps and how to avoid them

What is a Spam Trap?

Spam traps are email addresses that are used by internet service providers (ISPs). And blacklist providers to identify spammers so they can block emails from them. They just look like normal email addresses. And are often created from old email accounts that are no longer used by their original owners. New spam traps are created all the time. But since there is no real human on the other end of these addresses. They don’t sign up for email marketing or results for any opens & clicks if you send to them. 

Types of Spam traps:-

  1. Pristine traps: Pristine are the email addresses that are not valid. And could not even opt into receiving mails. The purpose of pristine traps is to identify email marketers who use poor list building practices like scraping from the web or purchase contact lists. These traps are available on public sites but are hidden within the site’s code.
  2. Recycled traps: Recycled are the email addresses that were once valid. And were used by real people in the past. But became abandoned and at some point of time were converted into a trap by the inbox provider. These are the email addresses that are not used anymore and are deactivated by the inbox providers after a certain time. When someone sends an email to these addresses, the inbox provider returns a hard bounce, which is a signal to the sender to remove these email addresses from the list.

How to avoid them?

A Guide to Spam Traps + How to Avoid Them - Litmus

The only way to avoid them is of finding and deleting them by taking a close look at your list quality in general. They don’t belong to real people, so they typically don’t behave like an engaged subscriber. Most spam traps won’t even show any engagements like clicks or opens. If you actively manage your inactive subscribers, you will likely get rid of your spam traps, too. Running a campaign that asks for existing subscribers to reconfirm their interest in your messages is another strategy to separate engaged subscribers from those who don’t confirm or might be of spam traps.


Firstly, you need to understand how the spam traps made it to your list in the first place and then fix your list building strategy to prevent from further spam traps. Generally, traps will appear in either of your most recent signups, or in your oldest inactive segments, so make sure you focus on both the angles to keep spam traps from off your list.

Follow the steps to avoid them:-

  1. Don’t ever buy an email list.
  2. Use double opt-in.
  3. Validate new email addresses.
  4. Deactivate bounced email addresses.
  5. Manage your inactive subscribers.

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