Buy or rent an e-mail address file can be a very tempting solution. This allows you to quickly get many contacts to send your messages, without having to take the time to build this file yourself. Unfortunately, it’s not a very good choice. The purchase of email lists can have serious consequences for your business, both in terms of results and reputation, not to mention legal repercussions. We explain why you have to avoid taking this shortcut at all costs.

From a legal point of view

In the European space, the legal framework concerning the protection of personal data is governed by the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The latter applies to both public organizations and private organizations.

First of all, it should be known that according to French and European laws, an email address is considered a personal data. Its treatment is therefore subject to protection. The main imperatives of the email file according to the CNIL are:

  • The file purchased must be declared to the CNIL, on pain of being considered unlawful.
  • Any contact in the file must have clearly expressed its consent as to the use of its data (opt-in), or do not oppose it (opt-out). *
  • Each contact in the email list must be informed of the nature of the processing of its data, and the fact that it may receive emails only if it consents, or it does not oppose it.
  • Before any data transmission to business partners, contacts from the list must have given their consent.
  • Each contact should be able to clearly identify the partners to whom the data are transmitted.
  • Each contact must be informed of changes in the list of partners, especially if new partners are added.

* Regarding the consent of contact for the use of its data, the regulations are slightly different depending on the context.


If the contacts of your file are individuals, they must be informed beforehand the use you will make of their personal information, and give you their explicit agreement. Opt-in is therefore essential for obtaining this consent. Attention, the passive opt-in pre-checking the consent box is not considered valid.


If the contacts of your file are companies, obtaining consent is not mandatory for the so-called “generic” addresses (, On the other hand, if it is the email address of a specific person working for the organization that you target, your message must not only be related to the profession of the recipient and the activity of the company, But you must also have obtained its consent beforehand using the opt-in or the opt-out.

6 Negative consequences of buying or renting emails lists

  1. A list of bought or rented emails does not usually respect the instructions of the GDPR concerning consent.
  2. A list of bought or rented emails is not reliable and will probably have faults, for example incomplete, obsolete data, even unlawfully collected addresses.
  3. If the contacts in the list are not aware of the transfer made, receive emails from a company that they do not know risks strongly to import them. Your messages will surely be placed in spam. This problem causes others; To be penalized by your courier provider, which will harm your reputation for your IP address and the reputation of your brand.
  4. The use of a list of bought or rented emails leads to a very low rate of deliverability. The opening rate is much higher with a diffusion list constructed organically because it contains qualified contacts, which is not the case with a purchased or rented list.
  5. The commitment rate will not be better given the low opening rate, but also because a purchased or rented list is not properly targeted and does not allow adapted content.
  6. Contacts from a purchased or rented list are not exclusive, in the sense that other companies also use this same list. This means that prospects receive not only your messages, but also those of other organizations. This can lead to spam and account closures on the part of the imported recipients.

Rather than buying or renting a list of emails, the best option is Building an Organic Contacts. Bet on quality rather than quantity. Certainly it will take much more time, but the gain will only be better for your business, as for your prospects.