Is the FTC Going to Come After Me for Not Including My Mailing Address?

federal trade commission ftc lawsuit against at and t
Share the knowledge

We received a note from a reader, saying “I just read how the FTC has filed lawsuits against two different groups of email senders (spammers). If these really are spammers, more power to them! But I also read about how a private ISP sued Bob Vila! The man who does “This old house”! Some of my friends have even started putting their home mailing addresses in all of their email, because they say that a new federal spam law, called “CAN-SPAM”, requires it!

Is this right? Do I have to start putting my home mailing address in all my email? Is the FTC going to come after me if I don’t? Can I be sued by an ISP if they don’t like the email I send?

Help! I only use email to talk to my family, friends, and online buddies, and I don’t really want to tell everyone my home address!”

Here’s the deal: the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003, which is the new Federal anti-spam law, only applies to commercial email. It does not apply to the private, personal email which you send (unless, of course, your private, personal email is sent for a commercial purpose, in which case you do need to be careful to comply with the CAN-SPAM Act. But that’s another question for another day.)

Generally speaking, if you use email only for personal use, and especially if you do not run any email mailing lists, then you don’t have to worry about the provisions of CAN-SPAM. Similarly, nobody, including the FTC or an ISP, can use the CAN-SPAM act to sue you just because they don’t like your email (but this does make us wonder what kind of email you are sending!) You have to have violated the CAN-SPAM law, of which you are in no danger if the email you send is not commercial.

(That said, with it known that employees spend at least an hour a day on personal email, you do have to be careful to not mix business and pleasure when it comes to email.)

So relax, and write to your friends and online buddies all that you want.

Share the knowledge

7 thoughts on “Is the FTC Going to Come After Me for Not Including My Mailing Address?

  1. [quote] #5. Rob.. “Un-subscribing just validates the
    E-mail address, unless it is something that you subscribed
    to. This is the time to just hit delete.”

    Never delete spam while working online. Click Work Offline first,
    then delete spam, and it can’t phone home to let the spammers know
    they got a live mailbox. It won’t take long until you will notice a great
    reduction of spam. This is true for Outlook and Outlook Express.

  2. Oops, Kim please accept my apology for misnaming the program to clean out the unwanted spam in your e-mail. I plead a senior moment for my memory lapse( I,m 73 and still going), and a large thank you to David for the proper title of the MAIL washer program rather than WEB washer…Mea Culpa…

  3. Un-subscribing just validates the E-mail address, unless it is something that you subscribed to. This is the time to just hit delete.


  4. I`m fortunate. I haven`t (so far!) received any spam whatsoever on my present ISP, but a previous one (British Telecom – I`m in the UK) seemed to attract the stuff like a magnet. However, I`m a great fan of Mailwasher, another bounce, delete or accept – type program. There`s a free version for one account only or a paid-for version with more facilities. See Whilst I`m talking about them, they do a fiendish program called Benign (B9) that checks your incoming mail for non-standard items (to put it simply) and disposes of them, then re-assembles the mail and lets you have it. Coupled with a firewall and decent virus checker, it should make you pretty bomb-proof!

  5. Hi Kim,
    Download WebWasher and you will have the ability to screen your e-mail before it reaches the mail account. You have the options of blacklisting, deleting and/or bouncing all of the unwanted mail, if you wait for government action, you will be old and gray before they get their acr togrther…Use the do it yourself method…it works…

  6. I am getting a LOT of spam that doesn’t give you the option to unsubscribe. Is there anything I can do about it, with the new laws that are effective now?

  7. Dear Aunty Spam,

    Time and again I have heard and read that after one installs WinXP SP1, there is a 20% to40% chance it will damage your computer in one way or another. I did install SP1 in my computer and it crashed. I had to use a floppy to get it started, and then I ran System Restore. It worked, but I am still out SP1, and it seems that SP1 is important to install. So, now what?

    I really like your blog. I’ve learned a lot from it.

    Matthew Swisher

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.