Any time you send or forward e-mail to a group of people who don’t know each other, the correct etiquette is to put everyone’s e-mail addresses on the Bcc (or Blind Carbon Copy) line. This has the advantage of making your message look as if it were sent to each person individually, but more importantly, it protects your friends’ e-mail addresses from spammers and keeps their e-mail address private from everyone else on the list.
Every e-mail program has a Bcc: option.
Search in your e-mail program’s Help if you can’t find it readily.
Example: In Windows Live Mail, Hotmail, or MSN mail, to display the Bcc: (and Cc:) line, click Show Cc &Bcc in an e-mail message (as shown below).
You may also want to include a message like the one below at the bottom of your e-mail messages as a reminder:
Note: Please protect my privacy. Do not expose my e-mail address to others. If you’re
sending e-mail to a group of people that includes me, please put my e-mail address on the Bcc: line only.
How crooks use exposed e-mail addresses
If you are forwarding an e-mail with a cute thought, picture, survey, or something similar, ask yourself what motivated the original sender? Criminals specifically start many such e-mail threads because they know people will forward them — and they have embedded a piece of code that essentially works like a hidden Bcc line so that the thread including all the e-mail addresses automatically come to them for harvesting.
In the past, criminals were just after e-mail addresses for their own use or to sell to other spammers. Now, criminals also use this tactic to map your social networks and create smarter spam scams using social engineering. We are more likely to fall for a scam if a friend or family member is also on the “To:” line because it seems more legitimate.
Protect your friends and acquaintances email privacy and ask that they respect yours.