Identifying Spam

An unsolicited bulk email (usually called spam) is a message sent to a large number of email addresses, where the owners of those addresses have not asked for or consented to receive the message. Usually, spam advertises a service or a product. Unlike conventional junk mail where the sender pays the cost of postage, recipients of spam pay the transmission costs, either in the form of Internet access fees and/or telephone call charges.

ISPA is taking an active role in combating spam in South Africa. ISPA members are bound by a Code of Conduct which requires that ISPs take steps to prevent spam from originating on their networks. In addition, ISPA is actively tracking and identifying South African spammers.

Consumers can take action by reporting South African spam to the relevant ISP. If the ISP fails to take appropriate action, and if they are an ISPA member, a complaint should be lodged with ISPA.

Identifying South African spam

To determine whether or not spam is originating from South Africa, there are a number of things to look at:

The sender of the message:

  • Is it from an email address ending with .za
  • Does the body of the message request a reply to an address ending in .za?
    (This may be different from the email address in the From: header.)

The nature of the content:

  • Are there South African contact numbers in the spam message
    (e.g. +27 or local mobile phone numbers)?
  • Is the service or product being marketed specific to South Africa
    (e.g. events taking place in SA)?
  • Are there prices indicated in Rands?

Examine the source (advanced):

  • Extract the full headers of the message and see if it was sent from a South Africa origin.

If it is clear that the spam is of South African origin or target audience, forward the message with full headers to your ISP’s abuse desk and request their assistance in dealing with the matter.

You can also try contacting the spammer to request the removal of your address and disclosure of where it was obtained. However please note that in some cases, replying to an unsubscribe instruction in the body of an unsolicited email merely serves to confirm that your email address is active and could even results in more spam from that source.

ISPA cannot take serious action against South African spammers without accurate information from consumers. Any support that the consumer can provide will assist ISPA in the fight against spam.

Useful links

  1. ISPA’s Code of Conduct
  2. ISPA List of Members
  3. Extracting SPAM Headers
  4. Lodge a Code of Conduct Complaint