Spam emails are unsolicited commercial email sent without consent. It is email that you don’t want and didn’t ask for. Spammers attempt to send emails in a few different ways including purchasing large lists of email addresses and using software to randomly generate an email address. You need to be careful how you use and share your email address. Here are the top 10 ways to reduce the amount of spam that you will get.
- Setup a generic email for public use (forums, registration pages and contests). There are often times when you need to get something that requires you to sign up. Make a special email address that you use in these circumstances, let that email address collect the spam, and when it gets overwhelming you can delete it and create a new one.
- Block pictures in HTML messages from people you don’t know. Some emails can contain images which validate to spammers that your email address exists. Many email programs prevent images from downloading by default and you should only download images from people you trust.
- Never reply to spam or click the link that says “remove me from your list”. By replying to spam email or clicking on removal or unsubscribe links you are confirming to the spammer that your email address is valid.
- Don’t forward chain e-mail addresses since they are usually hoaxes. There are thousands of email hoaxes moving around the Internet at any given time. Some may be the latest email hoaxes around, others may be mutated versions of hoax messages that have travelled the Internet for years. These email hoaxes cover a range of subject matter, including: supposedly free giveaways in exchange for forwarding emails, bogus virus alerts, false appeals to help sick children, pointless petitions that lead nowhere and accomplish nothing, dire and completely fictional, warnings about products, companies, government policies or coming events. Find out how to spot an email hoax.
- Don’t use easy to guess addresses (email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org). When a spammer comes across your domain they will automatically try a bunch of email addresses. If you use easy to guess addresses most likely the spammer will find your address and you will get their messages.
- Don’t send bulk emails using TO or CC fields. When using these fields, recipients will be able to easily view each other’s email addresses. The email is likely to be forwarded many more times and it will carry an expanding list of email addresses along with it, including those of your friends and family. Ultimately this list of email addresses may find its way into the hands of spammers who will send you and other people on the list irritating and intrusive junk email.
- Keep your computer up to date. Computers not kept up to date are more susceptible to joining the large networks that are responsible for sending spam. Downloading the latest updates for your computer (including Windows Updates, Antivirus Updates and more) you can keep your computer secure.
- Don’t publish personal email addresses on your website. Similar to search engines, a spammer can crawl web sites on the Internet. The difference is that spammers are looking for email addresses to add to their lists instead of content that people want to find. By never publishing your personal email address spammers won’t find it on your site.
- Turn off automatic processing of delivery & read receipts. When someone sends you an email they can optionally request a receipt that ensures their email was delivered and read. When it arrives you are sometimes asked if you want to send the receipt. You never want receipts to be automatically sent as it is a way for spammers to validate that your email address exists.
- When filling out forms online watch out for check-boxes that are automatically checked. Often when creating a user ID for a website, a default check-box is selected that indicates you want to receive updates and promotional material from a company. Be sure to read what you are agreeing to before submitting your request.
If you currently receive a large amount of spam you might want to create a new email address and follow the steps outlined above. With your new email address, send an email to your contacts informing them of the change and that you don’t want to receive the chain emails they will most likely send.