Scam Alert: Email Preference Service

Although this post mentions the above "service", it's also a general warning about similar schemes. Whilst looking for details related to a data protection issue I stumbled upon The Email Preference Service, it made me realise that there's not a lot of information available to counteract these rather suspect services.

Well there's two - one recommended by the DMA (the eMPS) and managed by them, and a second service which seems to be unaffiliated with anyone (including any company or people).

The only trace is to a single person, who appears to have shuttered the whole operation as dormant in 2015. Whether or not this was a data scraping mechanism or not is unlikely to be known and the person answering the phone claimed to know nothing about EPS.

First lets set the record straight though - there is no email preference service. There's a telephone PS and a mail & fax PS, but no EPS. Any service claiming to offer this is not mandated in the same way TPS is (e.g. OfCom et al have the power to fine a company £[x]k for single cold call to a TPS listed number).

These EPS services are opt-in and will only affect those marketers who elect to subscribe to the list. Which is cheeky in itself as it looks like EPS are / were charging people for the privilege of an undefined service - which seems to be no more than you or I would do when receiving spam.... contacting the spammer and asking them to pack it in.

On the FAQ they claim to place email addresses on national registers - of which I could find zero references anywhere else. Perhaps they exist but bear in mind some marketers buy lists of personal data knowing they lack the proper consent, then share do-not-send lists of people they know complain about spam.

Both those lists are breaches of the Data Protection Act (and potentially PECR too).

Money for nothing?
The other reasonable reference to this type of service also notes that there is no "real" EPS, Peter Claytons preferenceservice.com actually has some pretty good advice on how to deal with unsolicited messages (which should apply to attempted phishing attacks too).

Right up until he recommends a US-based list managed by Interactive Marketing Solutions Llc of Connecticut. Straight away there's an issue with the paper-thin "Privacy" Shield along with a total lack of inspired trust that they don't just gather spam lists to sell.

The US is ranked 3rd in top sources of spam and has no realistic judicial redress for data protection issues.
[Source: https://securelist.com/analysis/quarterly-spam-reports/76570/spam-and-phishing-in-q3-2016/]

TL;DR 

Don't subscribe to "email preference services"; instead use your email apps filters, don't sign up for newsletters (just read the news), don't enter prize draws online and don't agree to share your social media details with every app and website.

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