There is nothing worse than sitting down, checking your emails, and getting nothing but spam. Here are 8 simple ways to protect yourself from spam:
- Install a spam filter such as iHateSpam or MailWasher for your mail program and configure it correctly. Generally most spam filter software will filter out most of the spam you receive. Occasionally it will miss some spam, or it will filter legitimate emails, but there are options to correct this, and the time it takes to do so is far less than filtering through the spam yourself.
- Turn off any auto preview feature your mail software has. For example in Outlook you can turn off the Preview Pane by going to View | Preview Pane. Most HTML spam emails will contain tracking images that mark your email address as "active" which results in more spam being sent to you. By turning off the auto preview facilities you ensure that the images are never loaded, and you can try to determine if it is a legitimate email based on the sender, the recipient and the subject. Alternatively you might consider previewing emails in text-only mode.
- Never use "Unsubscribe" or "Remove" facilities in emails you don't trust. Tthese facilities will be used to mark your email address as "active". By using the unsubscribe facility you are asking them to send you more spam. Simply delete the email, or mark it as spam in your spam filter software.
- Ensure you have a good quality and up-to-date virus scanner installed. There are so many virus scanners available and they are so cheap that there is no excuse not to have one installed. Some viruses can scan your entire computer for email addresses and relay them back to a computer that sends out spam. Check out Symantec, McAfee and AVG for anti-virus software.
- Don't enter your email address into any online petitions, or similar means of gathering your email address. Only enter your email address when you are sure that the site will not abuse your email address. Often petitions are circulated by people who want to harvest email addresses to be used for spam.
- The more forwards you send, the more spam will return to you. Your email address might be passed around to tens, hundreds, or even thousands of people. You have no way of ensuring that all of them have adequate anti-virus software in place, and chances are that your email address will be harvested somewhere along the way.
- If you are a business with a domain name, set up a "catch-all" email address. Then, when you need to enter your email address, use an email address specific to the site you are on. For example if you wanted to subscribe to the XYZ newsletter you might use firstname.lastname@example.org. This way if you start receiving spam that is sent to that address you know there is a good chance they are abusing your email address. Also you can then block any emails sent to that address.
- Set up a system such as SpamCop if the email address is for personal use only, and you will generally know who is going to be sending you emails. These systems authenticate that the sender of the email is a person and not a computer sending spam. The first time someone sends you an email they are asked to validate themselves. Once this is done the software will let through any emails from them.
When it comes to spam you have to remember that you are not being personally targetted. You are dealing with software that is designed to filter computers for email addresses, or randomly generate thousands or millions of email addresses, many of which will actually be real email addresses. Do not react to spam as if it is a person attack, otherwise you will probably invite more spam in your attempts to be removed from any lists.
You will never be able to filter 100% of spam, but with the right measures in place you can at least ease the pain.