Senate Democrats

Schumer: “Don’t Believe The Email Hype”


Citing recent FTC study showing that 66% of spam is fraudulent, Schumer says e-consumers face a greater risk of being ripped off by junk e-mail offers

US Senator Charles E. Schumer today urged the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to issue a consumer advisory alert, warning all consumers to be wary of products advertised through the unsolicited commercial e-mail known as spam. Schumer, who is proposing landmark anti-spam legislation, cited a recent FTC report showing that 66% of email spam is fraudulent in order to illustrate the dangers consumers face when purchasing products advertised by spam.

“When it comes to e-mail spam, don’t believe the hype,” Schumer said. “When two-thirds of these unsolicited e-mails are deceptive or fraudulent, the odds are you are getting ripped off. Consumers must know that, more often than not, what you see is not what you get.”

In a letter being sent to FTC Chairman Timothy Muris today, Schumer wrote, “Given our current inability to stop the millions of pieces of fraudulent spam traffic that are sent each day, consumers must be made of aware of the risks inherent in purchasing products from advertisements that are more likely fraudulent than not. An FTC consumer advisory alert would be the perfect means to do this while also providing a valuable stopgap until new anti-spam legislation can be enacted.”

Currently the only federal restrictions on email spam are general criminal and civil fraud prohibitions that can result in fines by the FTC and prosecution by the Department of Justice (DOJ) as penalties. The vast majority of spam, however, does not fit the legal definition for fraud, leaving law enforcement officials with little or no means to stop it. This is problematic because the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) reports that 37% of consumers have bought a product as a result of these e-mails, meaning that many consumers may have been potentially taken in by the false claims behind these electronic ads.

With spam now accounting for over 40% of all Internet traffic, Schumer is put together a new, comprehensive legislative package to combat spam. Schumer’s plan would establish costly fines for spamming activity, mandate jail time for repeat offenders, and create a “Do-Not-Spam” list of e-mail addresses similar to the FTC’s new “Do-Not-Call” registry that has succeeded in a number of states in virtually eliminating unwanted telemarketing calls.

The Schumer plan would also make it a crime to harvest e-mail addresses, eliminating the major technique spammers use to compile their address lists, and institute expansive anti-fraud measures that would help e-mail filters easily separate spam from personal or business-related email and clamp down on deceptive information that the FTC estimates is present in 66% of all junk e-mail.

“Spam is not just a little nuisance, it’s an epidemic, and getting rid of it is not as simple as hitting the delete button. Spam costs millions of dollars per year and hurts businesses large and small,” Schumer said. “As more and more communication is done through email, the cost of spam is only going to grow and grow. My plan blocks spam at the source and for the first time imposes serious penalties for the people and companies that send it.”

For more information on Schumer’s proposal, go to