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How to avoid e-mail spam

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e-mail spam

Computer users can avoid e-mail spam in several ways:

  • End-users can use automated e-mail filtering on their own computers.
  • System administrators can use appropriate tools to trap e-mail spam at the mail server level, either by use of software or special appliances.
  • Spam can be reported to appropriate ISP so that the spamming can be stopped.
  • By giving out one’s ISP e-mail address only to closely trusted acquaintances, friends, and relatives, and using web based e-mail services for everyone else.
  • By ensuring that those acquaintances, friends and relatives who have been trusted with one’s e-mail address do not include the person who wants to avoid spam’s e-mail address in the “To” or “CC” fields when sending several copies of an e-mail to ensure that, when such e-mails are forwarded, to avoid one’s e-mail addresses from appearing in an ammassing list of e-mail addresses
  • By creating a unique e-mail address for each person or site you wish to communicate with. This can be done using an online mail forwarding service, or with administrative access to your own e-mail server. If spam is received on one of these addresses, you immediately know who leaked or sold your address to spammers, and you can also cancel the affected e-mail address.
  • End-users can take precautions to avoid needlessly publicising their e-mail addresses or protect them from e-mail harvesting by spam bots, such as by using e-mail forms that do not display the address in the webpage code, or by address munging.
  • Using anti-virus and anti-spyware programs with regularly updated definitions to avoid having their computers hijacked and used as spammer tools.
  • Users are also advised to configure their e-mail clients to disable rich content features such as HTML mail and automatic downloading of images. Downloaded images can be used by spammers to identify valid e-mail addresses.
  • By periodically performing an internet search for one’s own email address, and if necessary getting the appropriate website administrator to remove it.

Anti-spam programmers have released several tools—intended for both end users and for systems administrators—which automate the highlighting, removal or filtering of e-mail spam by scanning through incoming and outgoing e-mails in search of traits typical of spam. Modern anti-spam systems are usually very effective at protecting you from spam.

Like other forms of theft, spam should be reported to the appropriate people so that it can be stopped. Services, such as spamcop, make this easy to do. While this may not immediately decrease the amount of spam you receive significantly, it will reduce the amount of spam that everyone receives.

The best way to avoid spam involves avoiding making one’s e-mail address available to spammers, directly or indirectly.

Basic computer literacy should include an understanding of the basics of spamming and spam avoidance. One should never reply to a spam e-mail, or click an “opt-out” link (this simply confirms that an e-mail address is “live”). Users should not reveal their e-mail addresses on porn, warez and other shady sites.

If a web site requests registration in order to allow useful operations, such as posting in Internet forums, a user may give a temporary disposable address—set up and used only for such a purpose—periodically deleting such temporary e-mail accounts from their e-mail servers. (Users should notify such forums of the new replacement addresses if they wish to continue interaction for valid purposes.) For example, free services such as spamgourmet.com and spamhole.com allow a user to create a temporary e-mail address which forwards e-mail to you for a set period of time, and then becomes invalid.

Licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses materials from the Wikipedia.

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