Are you interested in visiting a porn Web site? Do you want to by Cipro or Viagra online?
If you have an e-mail address, its almost a certainty that you have received unsolicited e-mails offering services or products that you have no interest in. Unwanted e-mails (called spam) sent to your personal e-mail address is annoying and a serious invasion of privacy.
If youre among the 90 percent of Net users who get sent at least one piece of spam a week, you may also know that spam is expensive. Connecting to the Net to download junk e-mail costs people millions of dollars a year worldwide.
Are you aware of how much your personal e-mail address is worth to marketers? Anyone can buy CD-ROMs containing thousands of e-mail addresses for as little as $30. The irony is that, perhaps because I operate LoudVox.com, an online service business, I personally receive at least an e-mail each week trying to sell me lists of other peoples e-mail addresses.
How do spammers get hold of our personal e-mail addresses? One method is to scan Usenet newsgroups and other public forums for email addresses. Another way is to guess email addresses that use AOL and Hotmail.
Avoiding all spam is just about impossible. However, there are a number of things you can do to substantially reduce your exposure to it.
If you jealously guard your e-mail address, filter your incoming mail, report all spam, boycott services promoted by spam and never, ever believe the removal instructions on a spam email, you should notice a substantial reduction in the amount of junk email you receive.
Following are suggestions to getting yourself out of spam hell. If you want more detailed information, take a look at spam.abuse.net:
1) Most spam includes some sort of Removal Instructions. Typically this involves sending an e-mail to some address or typing your email address into a form. Never reply to the e-mail list removal address or visit a remove my email address page within commercial spam emails. Guess what? This just confirms that your e-mail address is active. This makes it more valuable to bulk spammers who can sell your address for more money, and you just end up getting more junk mail. Never, ever follow the removal instructions.
2) Be aware some sites pre-check opt-in e-mail subscriptions to e-mails. Read all of the fine print and uncheck boxes on forms that allow you to opt-in and opt-out of promo e-mails.
3) Dont contribute to the problem for others by sending out large group e-mails to many other people with everyones e-mail address visible in the To or CC line. You can hide their e-mail addresses from others by using the BCC (Blind carbon copy) line instead.
4) Keep your personal e-mail account very personal. Dont give it out to everyone. Only give it to your family, friends and business contacts. Then ask all of your contacts not to openly CC you to others, use BCC, because the e-mail address is hidden from the view on the email.
5) Be careful about where you leave your e-mail address. When you have to publish your e-mail address, like in message boards or on sign-up Web forms, get one free Web-based e-mail account, like hotmail.com or email.com, to use when you have to share your e-mail address with a company.
6) Let the spammers know that you will never use their product. If theyve left a toll-free phone number, call it – and tell them at length what you dont like about their practices. The longer you talk, the more it costs them.
7) It is also important to report all spam you receive. Usually, the from address on spam is forged. You need to trace through the headers to figure out where the spam came from and who to complain to. You can use a service such as Spamcop to do this automatically.
8) Filtering incoming mail is possible thanks to a number of products such as Brightmail, Spammer Slammer, Spam Hater, and Spam Buster. These programs analyze your incoming mail and attempt to figure out which is genuine e-mail and which is spam. You can decide whether to divert spam to its own folder so you can double-check it, or just have it deleted automatically.
9) Lastly, if you use Microsoft Outlook for your e-mail program, then delete the spam e-mails by setting it to delete them automatically. In Outlook click Tools, then select Rules Wizard and set the e-mail program to delete spam. Just follow the wizard.
If you use Microsofts Outlook Express 6 instead, the steps are as follows:
1) Click TOOLS.
2) Click MESSAGE RULES.
3) Select and Click MAIL or BLOCKED SENDERS LIST.
4) If you select MAIL then you can create rules or filters within Outlook Express to automatically delete spam.
5) If you selected BLOCKED SENDERS LIST then just add the from addresses of the spam messages you keep getting. Then the program will automatically delete or you can specify only certain email addresses to receive messages from and all the rest get deleted.
An audio version of this article can be heard at www.webtalkguys.com for the WebTalkGuys Radio broadcast for Jan. 5.
Dana Greenlee writes about technology every Friday in the Index. She is also co-host of WebTalkGuys, a radio talk show featuring technology news and interviews. The show is broadcast on CNET Radio in San Francisco/San Jose, Boston and over the XM Satellite Radio Network Channel 130 every Saturday at 10 a.m. PST and Sunday at 7p.m. PST. WebTalkGuys is also Webcast on the Internet on demand from:
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