How to Stop SPAM: Basic Tips

We all hate spam, especially those of us running our own E-Mail servers.  Here are some important tips for you, as a user, to stop that unwanted, unsolicited E-Mail:


Here’s a real life example of how I used this technique to just busted for releasing my e-mail address to spammers:

First, some basics:

  1. Don’t ever enter your E-Mail address on any web form, unless you do the following:
    1. Find and READ their privacy policy (and you understand it and have determined that they actually are promising to never send you unsolicited e-mail and promise to never give your address or sell your address to anyone for any reason).  Note that MOST privacy statements do NOT state that they’ll do this.  Many of the privacy statements explicitly state that they WILL give our your E-Mail address.  This is why you HAVE to read it!!!!
    2. Is there a good reason for you to enter your e-mail address on that web site?  What are you gaining by giving your e-mail address to this site?  Is it worth the risk of spam?
    3. Have you ever heard of this site?  Is it reputable?  Do you trust them?  Are you SURE???
    4. If you’re signing up for something you really need, like online access to your bank, your utilities providers, etc…, it’s probably OK.  You should minimize or eliminate handing out your e-mail address on any other sites.
  2. If you participate in social web sites like Google+, Facebook, or MySpace, MAKE SURE you’ve set all of your privacy settings so that all your information is NOT available for ANYONE, except your direct friends.  DO NOT make your information available to friends of friends, and CERTAINLY not available to the general public.
  3. If you ever post a message in an online forum:
    1. DO NOT put your real e-mail address on there.
    2. If the online forum requires a registration first and requires your real e-mail address, consider NOT signing up.
  4. Never post your e-mail address on anything that’s publicly available on the internet, like job postings, resume posting, personal web sites, local web sites like churches, scouts, schools, etc…  Just because those sites are intended for local consumption doesn’t mean that the whole world can’t see it, and trust me, they DO!  Spammers have automated programs that scan EVERY PAGE of EVERY WEB SITE harvesting e-mail addresses.
  5. Ask your friends and family to NOT forward your e-mail to anyone else (like jokes and viral e-mail).  When they forward it, your e-mail address goes out to them all.  Most of these viral messages get forwarded to hundreds, if not thousands of people before your address is finally removed (if ever).  ANY of these people that have a virus that scans for e-mail addresses in their incoming and outgoing e-mail WILL harvest YOUR e-mail address.  Probably about 1/2 of all computers “out there” are infected.
  6. NEVER enter your e-mail address on an eGreeting card site.  Just DON’T use these sites… EVER!
  7. Ask your friends and family to never enter your e-mail address on any of these sites.
  8. Ask your friends and family to NEVER enter your e-mail address on ANY WEB SITE FOR ANY REASON!!!!  They think they’re doing you a favor by letting that web site send you a link to a page, but all they’re doing is adding your address to their spam list.  If they want to refer you to a web page, ask them to e-mail you the link directly from their own e-mail or NOT AT ALL!
  9. Remind your friends and family, AT LEAST once every 6 months about 7 & 8.
  10. If you leave a comment on a news story or a product review, make sure your e-mail address isn’t published with it.
  11. Don’t display images in e-mail.  Most mail programs (including webmail web sites) give you the option of NOT displaying images in e-mail where the image isn’t actually included in the e-mail, but is instead loaded from a website from within the e-mail when you view it.  The main reason companies send you e-mail with web link references to images, instead of embedding the images, is because they use unique image names that identify YOU when your e-mail program downloads them from their server.  Once that happens, they know YOU have just manually opened and viewed the e-mail.  If it’s spam, you’ve just verified to the spammer that your inbox is an active inbox.  Now you’re going to get MORE SPAM!!!!

For even MORE effective tips, check out this article:

For expert tips on stopping spam, read this article:

If you find these tips helpful, please leave a comment and let me know.  Or, if you have tips of your own, let the rest of us know.

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