If you have an email address, then you will get spam. It’s just a fact of life. I want to share with you some of my top tips to avoid spam.
There are many reasons why you get spam but they all boil down to your email address being found by those bad, nasty people who send out spam. What you receive in these spam emails can vary but you will probably be familiar with the offers for the latest pill, or maybe an offer to join a gambling site, or of course the ever popular treatments to enlarge a certain part of the male anatomy.
Strictly speaking spam describes any email of a commercial nature that you didn’t ask to receive. So usually this means its advertising something and trying to get you to buy it.
There is money is spam, a LOT of money. The way it works is that if enough spam emails are sent then it only needs a small percentage of people to buy something to make it worthwhile for the spammers.
Figures for the year 2009 show that 200 BILLION spam emails were sent per day. Yes, billion with a ‘b’. That was 81% of all emails. That is an incredible amount of junk being sent to people’s inboxes.
Let’s just say for example 1 million spam emails are sent trying to sell a $5 product, and only 0.01% of those result in someone buying that product. That’s 1,000,000 x 0.01% = 10,000 x $5 = $50,000!
Of course spam can also be more sinister and clicking on the links in the emails can install spyware and viruses on your computer. This can result in theft of your private and financial data, or your PC being taken over and used to distribute even more spam or illegal images, video and software.
So how does your email address find its way to the spammers? Usually, somewhere on the internet your email address is publicly listed. And anywhere that your email address is visible means that it can be collected for sending spam. Places like :
- Comments on forums, blogs and other websites. You’ll note that comments on our site don’t list the commenter’s email address so you are safe 🙂
- Making your email address public on social sites like Facebook.
- If you own a business, odds are that there’s at least one email address on your website. In fact in some countries it’s a legal requirement to have an email address on your website for customers to contact you. You can’t win can you?
- Listings in directories like Yellow Pages, BigFoot AnyWho etc
- Downloading or registering software
The list is almost endless.
In today’s world it can't really be stopped either. For starters you'd have to actually find the person who is sending the spam, and even if you did manage that, the laws making the sending of spam illegal vary from country to country. So its more or less impossible to prosecute someone with a computer in (for example) Russia, who sends spam to a person in say, the USA.
To make it even harder to stop, a lot of spam is sent by computers infected with trojan programs which send spam without the owner of the PC even knowing it's happening.
All you can do for now is manage it and its impact in your life and work.
So here are my top tips to avoid spam.
Use filtering in Microsoft Outlook
Outlook comes with a good built in spam filter. You can configure it to various levels so that it will check and block most spam mails, or you can set it to be super aggressive and block everything except people you have explicitly told it to accept email from.
And by adding people to your Contacts they are automatically trusted so Outlook doesn’t filter their emails as spam.
Don’t Unsubscribe from the Spam
If you see a link in the spam that says something like “Click Here to Unsubscribe” do not do it. Although you think you are unsubscribing what you are actually doing is sending an email back to the spammers confirming that your email account exists. This results in even more spam coming your way as the spammers sell your email address to more spammers and things just get worse.
Keep your virus protection up to date.
Whilst this won’t filter spam, it will scan the emails you receive for viruses and other dangerous programs. Also scan your computer regularly with a secondary program like Malware Bytes.
Use Another Email Account as Backup
Create an email account with Gmail (who have excellent spam filters) and use this email where you have to give out an email address for something like registering software or for commenting on forums. Keep your main email address in Outlook private.
I would say I get a few dozen spam emails per day, but by following the above tips, whatever does arrive in Outlook is filtered to the Junk folder and it only takes me a couple of minutes to delete it all. Its nothing more than a minor irritation.
Did you find this useful, or did it open a can of worms? Let us know by leaving a comment.
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