Home > Contemplations, Fail > SkillPages Email Spamming: A Warning, a Story, an Apology, & a P.S.A.

SkillPages Email Spamming: A Warning, a Story, an Apology, & a P.S.A.

SkillPages Home Page edit with spam notification

First, an apology to all of my contacts who I inadvertently spammed. I got taken in by SkillPages a service that is gaining users by spamming contacts of new members as soon as they sign up to the site.

I guess this is going to happen to the best of us sooner or later and it happened to me today. Even though I am generally super, duper cautious about what apps and sites I allow to access my data today I slipped up and the results were…horrible.  I received the below email this afternoon and thought to myself “Cool! A new site for connecting from a business perspective. Being the social media addict that I am I’ve got to check it out. As well, I know Jamie and he is a good guy who I trust not to send me spam. I am going to have to check this site out.”

SkillPages Spam Invite in Gmail

What I should have done was google the site. If I had, I would have seen these autocompletes*:

SkillPages Google Autocomplete

The above does not look like the kind of site I want to be associated with or allow to have my information without a lot more research. The third result is VIRUS for crying out loud! That is not promising but it gets worse.. Below is a screenshot of the Google search results for just the word “SkillPages”*:

SkillPages Google Results

The fourth result from Google is “Spam from SkillPages” from Western University (of Ontario). If you look at the Wikipedia article, the third Google search result, about SkillPages it has a full subsection devoted to: “Spam and blocking by educational institutes.” The ninth search results, a CNET article from Dec 11, 2012 titled, “LinkedIn for the working stiffs: SkillPages hits 10M users” there is no mention by the author of these nefarious practices but can you guess what the three comments (previous to the one I added) were about? That’s right! SkillPages spamming activities. Oh how I wish I had done this Google search BEFOREHAND.

*NOTE: The autocomplete screenshot and Google search screenshot was obtained using Google Chrome Incognito Mode as I didn’t want my personal search/browsing history to affect the results from Google.

I clicked the link and signed in to SkillPages with my Google Account Oauth. It asked me to sign in with Facebook and I did but I ensured I set it that only I would have access to see posts it created on my wall. I didn’t connect it to Twitter as I still wanted to explore this site. A couple of minutes later two of my email accounts which forward to my main email accounts received emails within one minute of each other as seen below:

SkillPages spam mass email

What was this?!?! I’d been had! Quickly, I switched into recovery mode/damage control. I went to the SkillPages Support and looked for a way to stop the service from sending these emails. I have almost 1,000 people in my “My Contacts” in my Gmail account. I know compared to some people that isn’t a lot and in a way I am extremely thankful for that! However, A LOT of those contacts have multiple email addresses so the number is actually quite a bit bigger. Maybe I would be able to stop some of the emails in their tracks before my entire contact list got spammed. Not a word mentioned on the SkillPages FAQ about this issue. The site was beginning to look more and more shady by the second.

Next, I jumped over to my Google Account Settings and went to the “Authorized Access to your Google Account” page (that link should work for you too) and revoked the access which SkillPages had to my Google Account. Hopefully, I did it fast enough to prevent every email from going out but, then again, maybe SkillPages already downloaded my entire contact list and was continuing to go down the list sending spammy emails on my behalf. I next went to Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, and Google Talk to pre-emptively apologize to everyone who this spammy site had sent the email to without my knowledge. I obviously have no desire to email every one of my contacts to apologize because what would probably just be more annoying!

After getting some work done which I was in the midst of doing when the spam wave hit I settled down to write this post as an apology to my contacts, a public service announcement to the Internet as a whole, and a warning in the hopes that I save someone from spamming their friends via this site. I also tweeted at the author of the aforementioned CNET post – a writer named Donna Tam – and asked her to update her post to warn others. Hopefully she does but to help her see the importance of doing this I suggest you tweet at her as well – on Twitter she is @DonnaYTam – and write a comment on her post.

Lastly, I tweeted at SkillPages asking them how to make the spam stop and opened a ticket with their Support team (as seen below) telling them how angered I was by their actions. I don’t know if it will accomplish anything or even if they’ll respond to it but I thought it was better than nothing.

Spam help request SkillPages Support

I know I am going to be A LOT more careful in the future when I accept invites to sites and I hope you will too after reading this. Have you ever had anything like this happen to you? Let me know in the comments!

  1. March 21, 2013 at 6:38 pm

    Next time just stick w/ LinkedIn 😉 I really hate when sites do this crap!

    • March 21, 2013 at 6:41 pm

      Agreed! But it was (I thought) new and shiny and I wanted to check it out. I had no idea what the results would be…I am sure I’m going to be dealing with the blowback in the next few days and it won’t be fun.

  2. Gigi
    March 23, 2013 at 6:13 pm

    LinkedIn is quite spammy too these days. You can manage and unsubscribe but they are really filling my inbox every day.
    First I receive 10 emails a day from the groups I’m part of.
    Second all the weekly and monthly email updates.
    Third all the inemails from recruiters (aka one a week).

    I created now a rule in my inbox to automatically put all LinkedIn emails in one folder.

  3. Marcia
    March 25, 2013 at 9:10 pm

    Thanks for posting this! I decided not to open my message from SkillPages until I learned more about them, and yours was the first site I checked, so I thank you and all my contacts thank you! Whatever SkillPages is good for, it is not being smart.

  4. March 26, 2013 at 1:40 pm

    That’s why I always create a new account for an unknown site rather than logging in through FB, G+ or any other API.


    • March 27, 2013 at 12:52 am

      Too true! I regret my error which is why I wrote the post so others wouldn’t make the same mistake. Sucks that I had to be the one who made the mistake but there it is.

  5. May 21, 2013 at 4:36 am

    Also spammed by Skill Pages, got dodgy lottery crap, didn’t give personal details of course, just reported to scam watch, and yes getting spammy stuff from lined In too mostly from BizCards.

  6. Richard Gaasenbeek
    June 6, 2013 at 11:16 am

    Don’t open email from a Davidson Kingsley using Skill Pages sent May 3…a large scam!!!

    • June 7, 2013 at 4:08 pm

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts Richard, they are appreciated. I have to say however, that while I don’t know Davidson Kingsley if he is a victim of SkillPages like I was then it isn’t his fault and he is probably sorry that he spammed you (if he even knows!). Maybe reach out to him and let him know?

  7. June 26, 2013 at 10:44 pm

    When I initially left a comment I appear to have clicked the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox
    and now each time a comment is added I get 4 emails with the same comment.
    Perhaps there is an easy method you are able to remove me from
    that service? Kudos!

    • July 3, 2013 at 3:43 pm

      Unfortunately I don’t, as far as I know, have the ability to make any changes to your subscriptions. I also don’t even see the initial comment you are referring to. I would suggest, however, checking the bottom of the emails you are receiving for the option to Unsubscribe there. At the bottom of the emails I have received from other people’s blog it says this “Want less email? Modify your Subscription Options.” near the bottom of the notification email and the words “Subscription Options” are a link. I’d imagine it is the same for you.

  8. Alouis
    August 26, 2013 at 2:24 pm

    Hi Dan, thank you for your information. Im new to skillpages. After reading your post, im really worried. I tried to delete my account from them, but the deletion page looks faulty and seems like preventing me from leaving. Gosh..i hate this stuffs. Im just a decent person looking for extra income.

  9. Johnny Smith
    October 13, 2013 at 7:34 am

    Thanks for the warning. Fortunately, because I did not recognize the person who “recommended” me, I googled skillpages before doing anything and saw your note.

    My guess is that I was found via a not-very-often-used Facebook account. :-/

  10. April 29, 2014 at 3:57 pm

    Thank you for this post!

  11. Liz
    June 16, 2014 at 7:22 am

    Like Johnny Smith I didn’t recognize the person who sent me a skillpages request so I googled it and found your post. Very glad i did. I’ll just delete the message and hopefully ignore skillpages in the future. What was especially weird was that it came to my Government of Canada work e-mail – one that is not linked to any social media sites at all! Made me even more suspicious.

  12. David
    July 9, 2014 at 3:28 pm

    After inadvertently having connecting to everyone they listed in their email, I eventually wrote a paper letter to them addressed to the Skillpages representative and their CEO frankly yet respectfully stating my opinion of their practices. No response was ever received. I am skeptical of trying their “unsubscribe” at the bottom of their endless emails (including to my other email addresses), thus instead will simply delete them all and as they arrive. Thank you for your post and others for their comments.

  13. August 4, 2014 at 10:21 am

    Sorry for your experience, but thanks for your info. I received an invite as well, but googled first. Your posting was helpful.

    • August 14, 2014 at 7:48 pm

      You’re welcome. Happy I was able to help!

  14. jonathancollins
    August 14, 2014 at 5:06 am

    I would have gone to the site had it not been for the fact that my barrister wished to connect with me. Very unusual for a barrister and especially one who has been dead for 12 months.

  15. September 10, 2014 at 6:40 pm

    Thank you! I was just about to join as I heard from an artist I respect and had worked with in the past – ask to ‘connect’ on skillpages. Thank you thank you!

    • September 11, 2014 at 10:30 am

      You’re welcome. I’m happy that you benefited from my mistake & blog post.

  16. amanda
    October 21, 2014 at 4:36 am

    Thanks so much for your post. I was suffering from a winter lurgy and mistakenly connected to an old work colleague thinking it was part of linked-in. Something sparked a warning note, and backtracking it was clear the site was not connected to it. I followed your link to access my google account and removed access. I couldn’t have done this alone!

    Thanks again.

  1. October 15, 2014 at 1:17 am

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