How to Report a Violation of the CAN-SPAM Act

by Kirsten O'Hara

Unscrupulous people make a living in your email inbox. They steal identities, send viruses and con people out of their money. Such deceptive emails resulted in the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003. This legislation bans the use of misleading subjects and headers. It requires that advertisements be identified as such and certifies that consumers have the opportunity to opt-out of receiving future emails from the offending company. Some organizations choose to ignore these regulations. Reporting the violations takes only a few moments.

Step 1

Record the email address and the business name of the offending message.

Step 2

Complete the online complaint submission form on the Federal Trade Commission website or send an email to

Report the offensive message to your Internet service provider, or ISP, by sending an email to its abuse desk. The dedicated email address for these complaints is usually abuse@[ISP domain] or postmaster@[ISP domain], according to website Spam Laws.


  • Reporting this type of offense requires the full header of the email message received. Most email programs allow you to access this information. If you are unfamiliar with this process, review your email system's help information or contact your email provider for assistance.


About the Author

Kirsten O'Hara started freelance writing in 2010. She wrote for her university newspaper "Lion's Roar" and won several collegiate writing contests. O'Hara earned a Bachelor of Arts in speech communication and a minor in English from Southeastern Louisiana University.

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