AVMA Protects Member Email Addresses

Periodically, the AVMA hears from members expressing concern that their email addresses provided to the AVMA may have been used to send unsolicited commercial email. When that happens, the AVMA mounts an investigation into the incidents.

AVMA policy strictly prohibits the sharing, renting or selling of email addresses or phone numbers from the association's database. Therefore, the AVMA is not the source of those email addresses.

The preface to the AVMA's policy on email states clearly the reasons for this important restriction.

"The American Veterinary Medical Association recognizes that its members and other individuals related to the organization view their email addresses and other identifiers used in emerging electronic media (e.g. instant messaging) as valuable, personal assets. As such, they expect that when that identifier is provided to the Association, it is handled with care and protected from any uses that diminish its owner's perceived value. In addition, the AVMA has a responsibility for maintaining the effectiveness of active electronic communications channels as they may become critical communications links during animal health and/or public health crises in the United States."

After investigating, the AVMA contacts the soliciting companies with members' concerns. In general, companies have informed the AVMA that they obtain data from two sources. Primarily, the companies "scrape" veterinary websites (such as those of clinics) for email addresses and phone numbers. In addition, the companies purchase lists from businesses that offer them for sale.

List companies typically list a variety of sources for their data, including Yellow Pages and other business directories, subscriptions lists from magazines and newspapers, county courthouse and secretary of state data, Internet search engines, new business registration and incorporations, and Postal Service information.

When investigating member concerns, the AVMA first checks its records for purchase of the AVMA's mailing list. However, even if companies rent the list or are somehow able to obtain it from another source, they are prohibited from copying the contents to an electronic database.

If members have evidence that their member information has been repurposed inappropriately, they should email Membership Services or contact us by phone at (800) 1-800-248-2862, ext. 6631.

Members also are encouraged to review and update their member record, including their mail and email options.