Years ago when Google launched Gmail I created a test account and still check it once in a while to see if it receives any spam. It doesn’t. Google launched Gmail in April 2005 and my oldest message is dated October 2005. Since then I’ve received two pieces of spam. Both were from the same spammer and on the same day, December 18, 2011.
I’m testing for a few things.
Does Google sell my email address?
I created a ridiculous 12-character user name that’s not easy to guess or generate using a dictionary. It’s made of mixed letters and numbers. It looks something like:
The only way I’d receive spam is if I publicly distributed this address or Google divulged it to a third party. I’ve used this address only once with a scam website. So far, I trust when Google says it doesn’t sell or distribute email addresses to third parties.
How long does an address live?
I did use this account in September 2011 to get more information about a website selling fraudulent software and I received this company’s fraudulent responses. Three months later I received two spam emails on the same day and then no more.
The spammer was probably shut down and my address maybe never made it onto anyone else’s list. This reinforces the idea spammers do refresh their lists from active sources instead of continually adding to them and keeping stale addresses.
Does a complex name deter spam?
I’m convinced it does. I have another test account with a short random-character address (four letters) I never use and it regularly receives spam. It looks something like:
Of course, posting an address in public places and with merchants still puts it on spammers’ lists. However, this test demonstrates spammers do send to randomly generated short names too.
No spam here—mostly. Not bad after 8-1/2 years.