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Playing It Safe Doesn't Always Work, But It's A Good Start

Does sender certification work as a method of ensuring the legitimacy of e-mail senders? According to Habeas Inc., provider of the popular Habeas Safelist database of certified senders, it does.

Habeas claims that it is now receiving more than 20 million requests per day from messaging systems worldwide. That represents a ten-fold increase in traffic in the last six months.Domains and ISPs are checking incoming e-mail against the Habeas Safelist database to determine whether to deliver a message to the intended receiver. One thing for sure, The list of ISPs that consult the Habeas database on regular basis reads like a Who's Who of service providers: AOL, Earthlink, Google, MSN, Mindspring, Yahoo, just to name a few.

So, if certification is becoming so popular, why does so much junk continue to seep in? Because there is only one way that certification can be 100-percent effective, and that’s to get every legitimate sender certified. A database like Habeas' can certainly be helpful, but an organization can exclude a lot of legitimate e-mail if it limits its acceptable messages to certified senders.

For direct marketers doing business online, such certification would seem like a must. Of course, that brings up another problem. There are several of these sender bonding programs out there, so to be truly covered, you'd have to sign up for them all.

In all, I'd say these bonded sender lists are helpful but an incomplete solution to the problem. More effective, but even more difficult to implement, would be for receiving organizations to implement their own certified sender lists. For large, global organizations serving millions of messages per day, that chore would be mind-boggling, requiring every employee with e-mail access to accredit each new sender. Of course, that's what these online bandits count on. For now it's just easier to hit the delete key.