Junk mail did not die with the invention of email. It adapted, and its virtual name is SPAM. Much like the junk mail in your physical mailbox that takes the form of sales papers, credit card offers and used car advertisements, SPAM is unsolicited electronic communication that clogs your email inbox in an attempt to sell you something.
Nobody likes or wants SPAM. People go to great lengths to avoid receiving it. Email providers try their best to filter it out so that you will never see it. Still, somehow it seems to find a way to forge a path through vast filtering systems and into your inbox. You don’t have to accept this intrusive and potentially fraudulent communication, however. There are ways to rid yourself of most SPAM once and for all.
- Unsubscribe – With a lot of advertisements, you may have actually inadvertently subscribed to them. Sometimes a store clerk asks you for your email address or you place an online order and get onto a company’s mailing list that way. In any event, take the time to open these emails every time you get them for about a week or two. Scroll down to the bottom and you will see an unsubscribe link. Click it. Sometimes the click is all you need, while other times you’ll have another step or two to follow. While this is tedious, if you are diligent you will drastically reduce your SPAM intake within one or two weeks. Note: If the SPAM is not coming from a reputable company and you feel hesitant about it, click your report spam button instead of the unsubscribe link.
- Keep Your Email Address Private – When you join message boards, chat rooms and social networking sites, ensure that you do not display your email address. If your email is out there for the world to see, you can be sure someone will be snagging it and adding it to a mailing list.
- Don’t Reply – Spammers see replies as verification that your email is active. If you reply you will often get even more spam. Using the unsubscribe link is okay, but don’t use the reply button (unless it is specified in the unsubscribe instructions and you trust the site).
- Use an Email Service with a Good Filter – Make sure you are using an email service that automatically filters out most spam. This will save you loads of time and does a lot of work for you.
- Make Your Address Unique – Some spammers just use a random combination of common names at popular email services to send out their junk mail. So, if your email address is JohnSmith@aol.com, chances are you will receive spam regardless of what measures you take to avoid it. Consider changing your address to something that would not be guessed as easily.
- Hide in Plain Sight – If you absolutely have to publish your personal email address somewhere, try to mask it. Sometimes email addresses are automatically picked up because of the format in which they are written. For example, a program might be looking to “harvest” anything they see with the format “Name@provider.com.” So, instead of displaying the email in its usual format, write yours out in a way that only a real human can interpret, such as “Name at Provider dot com.” This does not mean you will not get any SPAM. There are humans out there harvesting as well, but it will decrease the volume considerably.
- Don’t Fall for Scams – In case you were unsure, if you receive an email stating that you inherited mountains of money from a long lost relative, won an international lottery, or that someone has lost their luggage in a foreign country and needs your help, it’s a scam. These emails are sent out in mass each day. Each one will eventually ask you for a small amount of money. None of them have ever been legitimate. Please do not answer them. Answering them will usually encourage more of the same.
- Limit Your Contacts – An option some people are taking, especially in regards to their children, is signing up for paid subscriptions to extremely safe email accounts that will only allow certain senders that you designate to send email through. While this may not be practical for everyone, it may be a good option for children to ensure that they not receive SPAM that could be inappropriate or offensive.
- Create a Second Email Account – Create a second email account for public use. Use this one when you leave comments on blogs or articles online, sign up for social media or join online groups. This will be your public email account that gets all the SPAM. The sole purpose of this account is to collect your SPAM and you will never actually use it or have to see its pile of virtual junk mail. If your own email address is being overrun by SPAM, and you do not have the patience to try and fix the problem or mind changing email addresses, you can instead choose to use the new address for your personal use and have a fresh, SPAM-free start. In that case, use your old address for public display and sign-ups.