In my technical support role I occasionally hear complaints from some of our clients regarding the amount of spam they receive. Spam, for the benefit of internet newbies, is unsolicited, usually commercial e-mail sent to a large number of addresses. Its an ever-growing and frustrating issue that wastes time and resources. Most hosting providers and Internet Service Providers do provide some sort of Spam filtering but it isn’t always enough.
A little action on your part can greatly reduce your risk of receiving spam independent of your internet provider’s filtering capabilities.
A few Do’s and Don’ts will help reduce and eliminate this risk. Let’s start off with a few things to avoid, as doing these are sure-fire ways to bring spam to your email box.
Post your email publicly on a website, forum, or chat-room. Publicly posting your email allows it to be accessed by bots that scan websites in attempt to grab email address with the sole purpose of sending Spam and possibly Viruses and Malware. If you own your own website and want your customers/clients to be able to contact you by email setup a contact form. Contact forms use scripts that hide your email, keeping it safe from Spam harvesters.
Open any mail that you suspect to be Spam. A lot of Spam email contains coding that is used to verify when it has been opened. If you open the email they know you have an active email account and will continue sending you more spam.
Click “Unsubscribe” from any Spam email. If you did not subscribe to a newsletter do not click “Unsubscribe” This is another way for Spammers to verify that you have an active email account.
Open any attachments in a Spam email. Opening an attachment can cause viruses to be downloaded onto your computer and even allow a Spammer to use your computer to send Spam to other people.
Enable Spam Filtering. Most email providers have Spam filtering available, use it!
Many will allow you to adjust the filter settings to be more or less aggressive based on your needs. You can also make use of blacklists and whitelists. Blacklists will block anyone sending email from a particular domain, while whitelists will always allow mail from a certain domain. Using a whitelist may be useful for when more aggressive Spam filtering has been enabled.
Report Spam. When Spam does get through into your inbox a lot of email clients will allow you to mark it as Spam, in-turn blocking future attempts from that sender. You can also report to Spam authorities. These Spam authorities are working to shut down Spam, but they need the help of people receiving Spam. Here are a few places to report Spam:
OnguardOnline.gov Part of the Federal Trade Commission, you can forward spam email as an attachment to this email address: [email protected]
SpamCop – Requires registration, but worth it!
Knujon Is working with ICANN to permanently ban repeat Spam offenders
Get multiple email addresses. It sounds like a hassle but it is really not too difficult to set up. You can get free email accounts and use them for different aspects of your online life. Use one to sign up for websites that require a registration, one for your personal life that you only give to friends and family, and your professional email that you will use only for work. Even better you can set up your multiple accounts to forward to one email address so you do not have to check your email in multiple places.
Read terms of service for anything you sign up for online. Skim through any Terms of Service documentation, this may provide clues as to whether or not they will sell your email address and other information to a third party. If there is a checkbox asking to share your information with 3rd parties MAKE SURE IT IS UNCHECKED!
Use a disposable email address for sites you are unsure about. Get a disposable email address from a service like Guerrillamail. Guerrillamail creates an email inbox for 15 minutes, which is just enough time to sign up on a website and respond to their confirmation email. After the 15 minutes the account is destroyed so no subsequent Spam will be sent to you.
By following these guidelines I have been able to eliminate a lot of Spam from my daily life, and I know that this can help you as well. Is there anything that you do to help eliminate Spam? Leave your comments below!