How do I avoid spam traps?

What are spam trap email addresses and why do they matter for your app?

Penny-Merelle avatar
Written by Penny-Merelle
Updated over a week ago

Nobody likes spam. One of main tools in the fight against spam is spam traps. Spam traps are "honeypots" set up to catch spammers. They're addresses which don't belong to any real human, however unlike bounces they are policed by organisations and email service providers to identify spammers.

Sending email to these addresses is considered unsolicited, damages the sender's sending reputation and can cause the sender to be blocklisted 😱  

There are three kinds of spam traps:

  1. Recycled traps: These are addresses that have previously been used by real people, but no longer are.

  2. Typo traps: These are commonly mistyped addresses such as gmail.con

  3. Pristine traps: These are addresses that were set up by an email provider or security company specifically to catch spammers. They have never been used by real people, and are often found in purchased or borrowed lists.

How did you get spam traps in your app?

There are many ways spam trap emails can arrive in your app, but the most common ways are:

  1. List acquisition: Purchasing or borrowed a list of email addresses. Please see our Email Sending Guidelines for more information about this.

  2. User acquisition: Not verifying or confirming email addresses at sign-up can mean addresses contain errors. Using tools like mailcheck can reduce errors and entering details twice can prevent errors but getting people to confirm with double opt-in is the best ✨ 

  3. List hygiene: Even legitimate senders can hit a recycled spam trap if they don't clean their lists. Recycled addresses are old email addresses not in use anymore which are now being managed by an ISP or a blocklist. It is recommended to clean your user list of old, disengaged users once every 6 months.

What happens if you hit spam traps with your Intercom messages? 

If your app hits a significant number of spam traps, Intercom will limit or deny email sending privileges for your app while this is being investigated. Hitting spam traps is dangerous and can cause Intercom's sending infrastructure to be added to blocklists. We may request you to clean your list to lower the trap hits in future sends.

We've outlined the steps you should take to get your email sending privileges back. If we don't see improvement, we may suspend your email sending privileges permanently.  

Implement double opt-in

Double opt-in is a two step process for sign-up, sending your new sign-ups an email with a unique confirmation link to click before they will receive any further email from you. 

Double opt-in proves that your new sign-up owns the provided email address and that it's valid. It also gives you permission to send emails to that address.

Validate user emails at sign-up

It's possible to stop bad sign-ups before they join your app. There are some email addresses which obviously don't belong to real humans.

You can do some simple validation of the formatting of addresses during sign-up or you can employ the help of a third-party service.

Clean your Intercom people list

If a user or lead hasn't interacted with you or your platform in a few months, it's likely time to say goodbye. We recommend only messaging users who have been active within the last 6 months. You can easily archive inactive users with the filters on your main user list.

Archiving a user from Intercom is a "soft delete" that remove the user from your user list. However, if that user comes back to your platform and signs in, we restore their details and their conversations - no harm, no foul.

If your app is hitting a lot of recycled spam traps, the best course of action is to clean your list of inactive users.

How to archive inactive users

You can filter your user list to select the users you'd like to archive. For example, you might might want to filter for users or leads who were "Last seen more than 180 days ago."

Send messages to active, engaged users only

Sending email to disengaged users can damage your brand and sending reputation. It's best practice to send messages to engaged users. You can target customers who were "Last seen" and "Last heard from" in your app using Rules in the email composer, for example.

These tips should help you better engage with your users and leads. For more tips, see our Email Marketing Best Practices.

If you're having trouble, get in touch by mailing us at and we'll be able to help you through.

Note: If you have sending restrictions on your workspace please follow the recommendations listed in the article above. Please implement double opt-in into your signup flow, review your message audiences, and make sure you're correctly filtering out email addresses that have not been verified.

Once you have made the necessary changes, contact Intercom's support team with the details of the actions you have taken, and they will review and assess whether they can remove the sending restrictions from your workspace.


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