Why you get email that isn't addressed to you

by Ross McKillop on July 6, 2006

Email

Have you ever received an email message that appears to be addressed to someone else? Chances are very good that it wasn’t by mistake. Spammers often use the Bcc: (blind carbon copy) function of email when sending spam.

The screenshot below provides an example of an email using the Bcc: field.

All three of those email addresses will receive the email, but it will appear as though the message was sent to just the addresses in the To: field.

Except when it is mis-used by spammers, the Bcc: field actually helps to avoid spam. When sending a message to many people, it is considered good email etiquette to use Bcc:. This way when email is sent to many people, no one person will know other recipients’ email addresses. If the email falls into the hands of a spammer, the spammer will not be able to “harvest” all of the addresses.