Steps to Smashing Email Spam


Almost everyone who has an email address has been spammed. Spam is unwanted junk email that is sent for a variety of reasons: to spread viruses, get business, or simply to be annoying. For whatever reason spam is sent, it's irritating and often dangerous for the person receiving it. How can one avoid getting spam, and once it's there, how does one get rid of it and avoid a repeat situation?

The first step is to protect yourself. Be sure you are using spam blockers, whether they are offered by your email provider or you have to find one on your own. Also, make sure your computer has basic protection. If you get an email virus, you want your computer to quickly take note and take care of the situation. There is a countless amount of great freeware available, or you can choose to purchase commercial protection. Just find a reputable system and don't download the first thing you find or you'll probably have another problem altogether.

Now that you're protected, check out your email and look for a pattern in your spam. Is there a common theme (there often is) or is all coming from one location? A theme you may see in your spam includes a stranger offering kind regards or needing your immediate attention. Spammers often use very generic names such as Mary Smith sending her best wishes or big names that grab your attention, such as Ban Ki Moon requiring your signature on a very large check. If you don't know the name on a personal email or the subject just sounds too good to be true, don't open it. It's probably spam, and opening it will likely lead to more.

If you find that a website that you've signed up for is sending you excessive spam, scroll to the bottom of the email and look for a unsubscribe link and let them know that you're not interested. Whether or not you find one, block the sender.

Most emails will allow users to create custom filters for incoming mail. These vary by provider, but they generally allow users to set specific guidelines on how they want their mail sorted. For example, someone working at a law firm can have all the messages with their firm's name sent to one file. This can be used to sort out potential spam if your account doesn't already have a good spam filter. If you do have a spam filter automatically or if you've set one up yourself, be sure to use it. When you get a spam email, be sure to alert your email account that this is spam rather than simply deleting it. This will help automatically sort future emails.

Sometimes it is helpful to have an extra email account. Dangerous spam can take over your email and automatically send out messages to your contacts without your consent or knowledge. Signing up for a free account and adding yourself as a contact will quickly alert you by sending you automatic emails that your contacts may be seeing, some more embarrassing than others. This way, quick action can be taken to prevent future instances.

Probably the most important rule about spam that everyone should follow is simply not to open it and certainly not to respond. Opening a suspicious message can lead to a takeover of your account, viruses, and of course more spam. So unless you personally know that Nigerian prince, just block it, send it to the spam folder and step away.

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