05 February 2011

7 Tips to Help You Reduce or Stop Spam

1. Use a separate email address when you post messages to any public forum, such as newsgroups and mailing lists. Never use your personal email address for this purpose -- or you'll be flooded with spam. Then, you can quickly go through the email in this account to see what's spam and what isn't. And your main personal email address won't be as clogged with spam.

For example, AOL users can set up a special user name for free, and use that for their postings. Then, they can just discontinue that account if they start to get too much spam.

2. Consider acquiring multiple email addresses for different purposes. This helps you to identify different sources and senders, and lets you filter more effectively.

For instance, you may have one for personal use only by friends, family or colleagues that is never used to request information or to subscribe to newsletters, discussion lists, etc.

Another might be used just for sales inquiries or orders, or for making online purchases. This can be arranged through your ISP, web host or through any number of online email service providers.

Even free mail services like Yahoo! Mail and GMail can be used for this purpose.

3. You can subscribe to services online that provide you with disposable addresses that can be deleted if they begin to attract spam messages.

You can create a unique address for each email newsletter or forum you subscribe to. Then, when an email address begins getting spam, you 'throw it away' and start using another email address.

This works because the disposable email addresses actually forward to a real email address of yours. The software lets you track which addresses are getting spam, and you can just resubscribe using a new, spam-free address.

For information on what you need to know about disposable addresses, visit:
http://email.about.com/library/weekly/aa072002a.htm

4. Remove your email address from your website. If you list or link to your email address, you can expect to be spammed.

Address-harvesting robots will spider your site and extract them. So remove them wherever possible and use web-based forms instead. This will drastically cut down the amount of spam you receive if you have a website.

5. NEVER buy anything from a company that spams. Don't visit their sites or ask for more information. (If you respond to their spams, you're encouraging them to continue spamming -- they only need a tiny fraction of responses to be profitable.)

There's another reason not to buy anything from a company that spams: over 95% of spam offers are scams! In fact, not responding to spam is the single most effective way to not get scammed on the Internet.

6. Filter your email. Using filters is key to managing your email effectively. It may take a short time to figure out how to do this, but it's definitely worthwhile.

For more anti-spam filtering information, visit:
http://email.about.com/cs/spamfiltering/

For more on negative spam filtering, visit:
http://email.about.com/library/howto/htnegativespamfilter.htm

7. Consider subscribing to a spam prevention service. We're not enthusiastic about these services, but many people find them invaluable. They range from the good to the bad to the downright ugly, and from free to fee-based.

Many of these services are "challenge response" services. This means they require that people who send you email to respond by clicking, visiting a website, and/or typing in a code that only a human (not a spam bot) could do correctly.

Tip: Make sure that any software or system you select gives YOU control of which email you get (and doesn't automatically erase messages).

On a related note, safeguard your newsletter and discussion list subscriptions. If you, your ISP or web host use spam filters or white lists, be sure to let them know that you want to receive messages from any newsletters or discussion lists that you subscribe to.

Do it as soon as you sign up... otherwise, it's very easy not to notice that you're not receiving them.

While these 7 tips may not actually stop spam, they will certainly help you drastically reduce the amount of spam you get.

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