How to NOT enable a spammer!

(alternate title: “How to stop giving up your friends, co-workers, and customers to spammers!”)

Sending an email to a list of folks is something you’ve probably done at least once. If not, you will one day! When you do, here’s a tip that will help you get less junk email and also not offer your friends, co-workers, and customers up to the Spam monsters and villains of the Internets!  

Here’s a sample of what I’m referring to (heavily redacted to protect privacy!)…notice all the names and addresses that (were) visible in the To: and Cc: lines (click full size image):

email redacted

First – The Basics

Open a new email message like you’re going to send one to anybody.  By default, the message is “From” you.  The “To:” line is the recipient (you knew this already).  The “Cc:” line is short for “Carbon Copy”.  Any email address you put here will get a copy of the message as well.  Good so far?  Great!

You may know that on the To: or Cc: line, you can put nearly an unlimited amount of email addresses or contacts to receive your email. Just put a semi-colon (“;”) between each one.

Next – The Advanced…the “Bcc” line

What you may not see is the “Bcc:” line.  This stands for “Blind Carbon Copy” and, like the Cc: line, anyone listed on the Bcc: line will also get a copy of the email! 

What’s the difference?  No one that receives a copy of the message will be able to see who else got the message.  This means, no one can steal their email addresses and send them junk email!

Next, Next – Turn on the Bcc Line

Many people don’t know about this Bcc option because in Microsoft Outlook, this line (or “field”) is hidden be default and you can’t see it.

To make it visible, when your creating an email, click Options and then click “Bcc” where “Show Fields” exists (your version of Outlook may be slightly different, but it will be very similar to this).  The Bcc: line should now appear in your email window.  It will stay there for future emails too!

Here’s a quick sample video showing how to do this (about 40 seconds long): 


Last – The Wierd Secret Trick

So, the next question is usually, “I tried this but Outlook said I have to have someone on the “To:” line to send it…what do I do?” 
Easy answer:  Send it to yourself on the “To:” line, like I did in this sample message: 

email sent to myself

The Why?

As I mentioned in the opening paragraph, disclosing your list of email addresses to everyone in your list is just bad in so many ways!  Here’s some you may not have thought about:

  1. It lets everyone you know see everyone else you know.
  2. It puts in very plain text, a convenient list of email addresses easily “harvested” by spyware and viruses. Believe it or not, the number one way you get spam is by someone getting your email address!
  3. It may give your list to someone you don’t want to have it. A client of mine mentioned that their primary (and unscrupulous) competitor had gotten all of their customer names and started emailing them (the customers) bad-mouthing my customer and stealing them away! They got the list of customers when one customer gave the list to the competing company!
  4. Anyone that chooses to “Reply to All” will saturate everyone on the To: and CC: lines with yet another reply (my church family innocently does this all the time…everyone hits “Reply to All” and my inbox gets blasted that much more with conversational bits that were not intended for me!)


If you need help with anything here, feel free to email or give us a call!  Next time someone sends you an email with EVERYONE else’s email address showing, feel free to send them a link to this little article!


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Leigh H., Client

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