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Forged emails from spammers continue

August 30, 2012

By Karen Fox, ADA News staff

Several times this year, ADA members and others in the dental community have reported receiving spam email that appears to come from the ADA.

The ADA continues to examine samples of these emails and has no reason to suspect the source was the Association. The ADA does not sell, rent or publish in any way the email addresses of current or former member dentists in the database. Legitimate emails from the ADA are distributed in one of the standard ADA email formats, as members are accustomed to receiving.

The messages are an attempt by spammers to trick the recipients into going to a non-ADA website and entering their email addresses and passwords or other personal information. Members reported receiving the messages that offer a link to “secure account log-in” information in July and August. An example appears at left.

The emails appear to be the same, though ADA staff in the Division of Information Technology advise members that scammers are always looking for new ways to get their targets to give up their personal information, so be on guard when opening email.

Recipients of such messages are advised against accessing the link. Doing so could result in an attempt to infect the target’s computer with a virus or to trick individuals into providing personal information.

The safest action is to delete this spam message when received. Dentists are also advised to alert their dental team about these messages. For more information, contact the ADA Member Service Center at 1.312.440.2500.

Spammers have many ways to obtain email addresses. The ADA’s publicly available online membership directory ADA Find-a-Dentist does not provide email addresses. The ADA’s members-only Member Directory will display email addresses for those members who have explicitly approved it. In addition to the members-only password, the ADA has deployed two technologies that monitor and prevent abuse of the Member Directory feature.

But there are other ways that dentists’ email addresses could be accessed.

“Typically, an email spammer buys a list of email addresses from a list broker, who compiles it by 'harvesting’ addresses from the Internet. If your email address appears in a newsgroup posting, on a website, in a chat room, or in an online service’s membership directory, it may find its way onto these lists,” says the Federal Trade Commission on its Web page devoted to helping consumers reduce spam email.

One way ADA members can decrease the risk of spammers finding them is by not publishing their email addresses on their websites. Instead, use an email form that allows people to send email without seeing your email address.

The FTC recommends additional ways to reduce the amount of spam received. Visit FTC for advice on spam and how to avoid scams.

Finally, send a copy of unwanted or deceptive messages to The FTC uses the unsolicited emails stored in its database to pursue law enforcement actions against people who send deceptive spam email.