Avoiding Spam

If you get too much e-mail that you didn't request, here's how to stop it (or at least, cut it down).

E-mail users who write me most frequently ask, “How do I stop all this junk mail”? The answer: “You can’t, but you can slow it down.” And the size of the dam you can build against it depends on the connection you use to get to the Internet and the e- mail software you use.

Junk mail, commonly called “spam” is a real pain in the butt. If it’s really bothersome, get fussy about the Internet Service Provider you use (some ISPs work hard to help block spam), and get e-mail software that has filters. Stay away from AOL, which does a poor job of blocking spam and offers an e-mail program that is about as technologically advanced as two cans and some string.

Watch what you do on the Internet. If you want to spend time on a Web page that insists you sign in, give a fake name and definitely give a fake e-mail address. If you browse the contents of newsgroups, use a fake name and e-mail address. Don’t sign up for mailing lists. Never, never, never respond to spam – don’t fall for the “reply to this message with the word REMOVE in the subject line.” Your name becomes salable to other spammers, under the heading “hey we got a reader here;” you’re announcing you actually read spam, which means you may actually fall for some scheme one day.

Set your e-mail software filters to look for messages that lack your address in the header, or have any of the following in the header: x- pm, x-ad, friend, sex, or pro bulk e-mail. As you notice other common properties in the spam you receive, add those phrases to your filters.

Just in case, don’t filter to the trash bin; create a mailbox for spam. Before you delete its contents, take a quick look at the From field in case your Aunt Martha sent you a note with one of your filtered phrases without realizing it.

None of this advice works all the time, and in fact it probably doesn’t even work most of the time. Spam is a fact of e-mail life, like junk snail mail. Your Delete key is your best friend.

(c) Article Copyright 2000 Kathy Ivens. Syndicated by ParadigmTSA

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