UK Spam Flourishes Through Personal Details Market

A disregard for customer privacy is one reason why spam has doubled in the UK this year, claims a watchdog report

UK web users are living in one of the most dangerous places in the world to surf, claimed a UK website and email watchdog, with 1,000 spam sharks each averaging five dangerous attacks per day.

This figure came from Spam Ratings’ study of over 10,000 websites and 150,000 emails. The company has noted that malicious spam messaging has doubled in the past year and one in 10 UK websites are now responsible for malicious or dangerous spamming attacks.

Victims Of Bad Practices

It found that 40 percent of the spam related to pharmacy products or contained sex-related content, 35 percent promoted financial offers (including money scams), 15 percent were phishing attempts, and 10 percent contained malware or links to malicious sites.

The company also accuses one in five company websites of breaching privacy best practices. These sites automatically forward the details of registered customers and visitors to third parties.

Spam Ratings has gone further and named several of the culprits as Argos,, Money Supermarket, Find A Property, Littlewoods and Woolworths. It has not said but it may have reported them to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

Almost a third of the emails investigated came from third parties, underlining that it is not just these few companies that are marketing personal details.

In all, three quarters of the emails received from the top 10,000 websites were deemed to be unwanted, nuisance or dangerous.

“Consumers need to think twice about the origin of spam and be cautious and alert when shopping online or signing up to websites,” commented Andy Yates, co-founder at Spam Ratings. “We are urging Internet users to help us tackle this issue by supporting our Stop Spam Abuse Facebook campaign.”

Yates believes that this profligate behaviour may be detrimental to hopes of a healthy online shopping environment. Graham Miller, director of, agreed and said that is why his company’s shopping portal vets its listed retailers for criteria that includes their attitude towards safety and customer service.

“The online retail world needs to wake up to the fact that consumers are still nervous about shopping online”, he said. “Our own research earlier this year shows this is an issue for 90 percent of shoppers. Concerns over spam and the threat of attack play a large part in this and the people who run these sites need to act to protect shoppers and save their own reputations.”

The Spam Ratings report follows a recent study from Sophos which placed Britain in its top five spamming-countries list.