How to Avoid, Shun, Thwart, Prevent, and Filter Spam
6 tips to keep spam out of your inbox and out of your life.
by Nick Smith
Email is rapidly becoming the standard means of communication among businesses, associates, and even friends. While many people have now been using the internet and email for years, there are thousands of new users on the internet each day. With inexpensive web hosting, free email services, and the blog burst upon us, getting your own slice of the internet pie has never been easier.
Whether you’re a seasoned professional looking for a refresher course, or you’re new to the internet and email and want to start off right, here are some easy steps to follow to reduce the amount of spam you receive.
Don’t choose an obvious email address. Spammers will generate lists of email addresses based on common names. A common list would be something like: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, etc. If you create an email account with less obvious combinations of your name plus some numbers, chances are better that you won’t find your way onto one of these lists.
Treat your personal email address with care. Only give out your personal email address to close friends and family who you trust. Give your direct business email only to clients and other contacts you trust to only use your address for legitimate business purposes.
Use different accounts for different functions. Create different aliases with your business’s domain name or create a few free accounts from free email servers like Hotmail, Yahoo!, Excite, etc. Use one account that you don’t care about for posting to forums or discussion groups. Use another to subscribe to newsletters and newsgroups. When any of these addresses starts to get spammed too heavily, simply delete the account and switch to a different one.
Remove your email address from your website. Between blogs and cheap web space, it seems everyone has their own piece of cyberspace. Before you put a link to your email address on your site, remember that spammers have bots that harvest these addresses. They will even find addresses printed in plain text. Consider using a web-based form for communication from you website, or place your address as a gif or jpeg.
Do not open, respond to, or purchase from spam. Interacting with spam in any of these ways indicates to the spammer that not only is your address valid, it’s also active. Do not respond with “unsubscribe” in the subject line, or click on any links to remove your name out of the database, as both of these are common ploys to confirm your email address. Remember, because sending email is so inexpensive, spamming can be profitable even if only a small percentage of people purchase what they’re selling. Don’t support what you’re trying to stop.
Filter you incoming email using filtering software. Even if you guard your email address religiously, you’ll likely still receive spam. Filtering software is usually inexpensive and effective, but there are some important features to consider with any filtering package:
- Make sure you can control what comes to your inbox and what gets deleted. The best programs create a spam folder for you to review before permanently deleting emails.
- The software should block images from incoming emails. Many jpegs in spam actually hide code that notifies the spammer when the email is viewed. Blocking images will not only keep offensive content off your screen but will also help prevent more spam in the future.
- Choose software that provides you with updates - as new spamming techniques are created and proliferated, filtering software should keep up.
While eliminating spam from coming to your email address is nigh unto impossible, following these simple steps will mean you’ll have to spend less time deleting spam from your inbox, giving you more time for the important things of life – like reading this article.