We tend to get lot of unwanted emails and we assume we may have subscribed in the past. So we tend to use the unsubscribe link in those emails. Using the unsubscribe link can lead to lot more spam.
1. Confirm with Unsubscribe Link
I have been trying to manage my emails by unsubscribing lot of emails that I normally used to delete in the pass because I thought I would read them some day. Ideally I should be getting lot less emails as I am unsubscribing on a daily basis but I realized that as I am unsubscribing emails but my inbox is becoming more and more full.
I was not sure what was happening but thought of continuing my process of unsubscribing. As I opened an email for unsubscribe link, found that I saw that image recently. May be "Sherlock Homes" effect as well but thanks to GMail for enabling images by default because text can be hard to remember with just a glance not images.
When searching my email trash found that I had unsubscribe from these kinds of emails. So why am I getting emails?
Digging further I realized that as I hit the unsubscribe link in an email, for genuine emails it is a signal to stop sending emails but for spammers it is a confirmation that an email is a legit inbox. Wow!!! That's not all when you click an unsubscribe link. It also implies that the email is signed up for many lists and is unsure about lists actually subscribed to.
So next time instead of unsubscribing to emails that you may think you have subscribed, opt for reporting as spam instead.
2. Contact List Spam
As I have been reporting spam, I realized one more exploit spammer use to get added to my contact list. No you don't need compromised account to get added to contact list.
The pattern that I found is use of contact form to email me. As I reply back, from email automatically gets added to my GMail contacts. Simple!!! So now when I report email as Spam, I find the following confirmation from GMail.
Checking email history I found that the spam pattern is pretty much the same which is sends me a single genuine message from my website's contact form and no follow up after I reply back.
I don't think there is a solution for this. So I prefer reporting things as spam as I get them and it's been a while I have been doing it and it is helping me reduce clutter in my inbox.