CAN-SPAM act violations – How Much Does It Cost To Send Out Unwanted Emails?

Potential customers normally do not like seeing spam in their inbox. However, sometimes the email catches a person’s eye and they click on it.

Sending cold emails could be a good marketing strategy, but proceed with caution. Sending spam can now cost big dollars in fines.

All of the violations of the Can-Spam act are very expensive. The feedback or additional business you might get from sending spam messages will probably not be worth the thousands of dollars in fines it carries. There are also consequences of jail time or bigger fines.

The Can-Spam Act.

The Can-Spam act of 2003 states that each violation of email spam could cost up to $11,000.

While sending automated or manual email campaigns, it is very important to follow the Can-Spam Act rules.

The rules are as follows:

  • The sender and receiver of the email have to represent the actual representative that sent the email.
  • Subject lines are not deceptive.
  • Emails that are commercial is defined as such.
  • Physical mailing address is included in the email
  • An unsubscribe function is provided in the email and honored for 10 business days


There are differences that make an email commercial. The most important distinction? The main purpose of the message.

The Can-Spam act states as follows:

  • Commercial – emails with the sole purpose to promote or advertise
  • Transactional – messages you would send your customers after purchases like receipts or confirmations of orders.
  • Other Relationships – emails that are not commercial or transactional don’t have to comply with Can-Spam Act as long as the primary purpose isn’t commercial.

What to do if the message combines transactional and relationship or commercial content?

Some emails sent by businesses will mix the commercial content and transactional or relationship content. So what happens when it contains two or more?

The subject line dictates the purpose of the email If the recipient would interpret the subject line as an advertisement or a promotional message then it would be considered commercial and fall under the Can-Spam Act.

If the bulk of the transactional or relationship message doesn’t appear at the beginning than it is a commercial message.

Can-Spam Act violations that are aggravated violations can result in larger fines or even imprisonment.

  • Using someone else’s computer to send spam messages.
  • Registering for multiple accounts or domains using false information as a way to send spam.
  • Transmitting multiple spam messages through a computer to mislead others as to the origin of the message.
  • Sending spam to addresses made up of random letters or numbers, hoping to reach valid ones. (This is sometimes referred to as a dictionary attack).
  • Taking advantage of open proxies to send spam messages.

These violations can also be broken by someone working on your team. Make sure your team and business partners (or anyone else in charge sending out information on your behalf) understands these requirements.

Ultimately the business owner will be held responsible for the violations.

Leave a Reply

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