- If you're overwhelmed with SPAM, you'll need to stop using your current EMail address as your primary address
for personal EMails and create a new additional account/address to share only with family and friends. Think of it as eliminating toxic waste. You just
need to take care that you don't spread contamination to your new EMail address (see item #2). You will have to spend a
good deal of time changing over to a new address, but you will be compensated for the time and effort by having changed
your old SPAM-filled EMail account into a throw-away EMail address that you can use to sign up on websites, make purchases
online, and other things you do that require you to reveal your EMail address to people who would abuse it. You only need
to monitor your current junk-filled mailbox often enough to dump the excess SPAM and retrieve the messages you know will
be coming from online stores and websites you've "joined" that require you to receive your password by EMail.
- Create a new EMail Account for your most private use and guard it dearly. I recommend
Yahoo! Mail and Google's GMail because they
offer built-in anti-SPAM software that works through the combined effects of their algorithms and the opinions of their
respective user communities. When one user declares a message to be SPAM, the system helps block similar messages for
everyone. Another nice aspect is that you can access your important personal EMail from anywhere you have Internet access,
complete with an Address Book and a massive message storage facility for photos, videos, and business documents.
- Never use your new private EMail address to buy anything online, to fill in a form anywhere (online or off), or for
a blog, bulletin board, Facebook, or Twitter user account. Let your old junky Email mailbox handle those chores. And if you
operate your own website, do not reveal your new EMail address anywhere on your webpages. Use a <form> to allow people
to contact you with a "formmail" script. If you must post your EMail address on a webpage, obscure it by using
form, be sure to check the mailbox for that address over the next few days to look for important notices from the company
where you placed the order. Otherwise you might miss a very important message about your order. But don't forward any
messages from your "junk" mailbox to your pristine personal EMail address or you risk revealing it to others.
- If you operate a website, there are two steps you should take. First, use an anonymizing service to prevent your
name, mailing address, EMail address, and other personal information from being posted online through your domain name
registration. Services like RegisterFly.com and GoDaddy.com
will give you this useful layer of privacy for a small additional charge. And second, don't embed your EMail address in web forms or
"mailto:" links on your website, or otherwise post it on your pages where automated bots can skim the information. If
you have a "Contact Us" form on your website, use a formmail script like my
SPAM Blocking Formmail script that hides your
EMail address from the rest of the world.
- Buy and use commercial SPAM blocking software for your computer. Years ago, I would have told
you that these programs are a waste of time and money because they were overpriced, performed poorly, and had some
compatibility problems, but these packages have been significantly improved over time. The built-in filters in
your EMail program will only catch about 40-60% of SPAM because SPAMmers are increasingly clever about disguising
the toxic keywords in messages. The commercial programs can trap well over 90% of SPAM for most people. These programs work
in much the same way as the built-in filters, but they have more sophisticated analysis algorithms that allow them to catch
more SPAM. The most popular commercial packages are Spam-Killer from McAfee Associates
and Norton Internet Security from Symantec, Inc. I rely on the Norton software and
it works very well. I've had the same Email address for over 15 years, and between the software on my website's mail server
(called SPAM Assasin) and Norton on my PC, very little SPAM makes it to my In-Box. Lesser-known programs I hear the most good things about are
SpamCatcher, Spam Sleuth, and
- Use the anti-SPAM filter in your current EMail program. All of them have filtering capabilities. Take
the time to learn to use yours. It's really simple. Just enter the most common buzzwords: the popular
euphamisms for body parts, "Viagra," "mortgage," loans," "discount,"
"porn," "Nigeria," etc. The program will then automatically either delete the
message or send it to a special holding-area so you can examine it later.
- Set your EMail program to disable displaying pictures by default. This will prevent SPAMmers from knowing
that you opened one of their EMails, thus informing them that the EMail address they used to reach you is
valid. This is somewhat inconvenient since so many valuable EMails are sent as web pages these days, but
images and other media embedded in EMail messages can be used to notify the sender that someone has read their
message, which tells them that they have found a working EMail address - and it's YOURS! You can still
see the images in your Email that you want to see with a single click.
- Never click on the "opt-out" link in a SPAM EMail unless you recognize the sender as a reputable company. Clicking
on such a link in an EMail from a SPAMmer only lets them know that your EMail address is valid and their message was read. Generally,
it's best to just flag SPAM messages in your EMail program to allow the software to learn how to spot such junk automatically in the future.
Of course, in reality, you need to give other people an EMail address where you
can be reliably contacted in spite of the fact that every time you do so, that address might
end up on a mailing list eventually. Until the various governments and Internet
consortiums finally get a handle on this plague, the only interim solution is to maintain two
EMail addresses - a public one that you post on website Forums and use for ordering online that you
only monitor occasionally, and a private one that you give only to friends and family that you check
Try http://www.mailwasher.net for help
if you receive your EMail through your Internet Service Provider (ISP) and they don't provide any
The head of Google's webspam team, Matt Cutts, recently posted a
great article on stopping SPAM
on his blog. He mentions several services that are free or low-cost.
Check out the Federal Trade Commission SPAM Information
to keep abreast of legislative efforts to stop SPAM.