There are many recipes for controlling spam – and there are many recipes for cooking with Spam. If you want recipes for cooking meals that challenge your arteries, please visit this page. If you’re looking for ways to control the amount of spam you get, stay on this page. We’ll delve into the world of spam and show you ways to avoid getting more spam than you already do. And we issue you a simple caveat: If someone tells you they can eliminate 100% of your spam, they’re prevaricating. No one can eliminate 100% of the spam you get unless you’re willing to take a chance on not getting all your good email. It ain’t going to happen – pardon my Slobovian.
Onward we march…
1. Never respond to unsolicited email. One response or “hit” from thousands of emails is enough for spammers to justify the practice. In addition, a response lets the spammer know that your email address is active, which makes it more valuable and opens the door to more spam.
2. Never send your personal information (credit card numbers, passwords, etc.) in an email. Spammers can fake the format of ANY trusted sites. Banks and other trusted sites will never ask you to send your password or credit card information by email.
3. Never follow a spam email’s instructions to reply with the word “remove” or “unsubscribe” in the subject line or body of the message unless you are sure of and trust the source of the email. Normally, this is a ploy to get you to react to the email, which tells the spammer that your email address is valid.
4. Never click on a URL or web address listed within a spam email, even if the message tells you that’s how you unsubscribe. This is another trick to that tells the spammer your email address is valid. Once they know your address is valid it can be added to databases which are sold to professional spammers on DVD or CD for a few hundred dollars. And this will result in you getting more spam for sure!
5. Don’t fall for sites set up to help you remove your name from spam lists. Although some of these sites MIGHT be legitimate, most are really collecting valid email addresses to sell to spammers. If a collector gets your address and they know it’s a valid, working email address, it is worth a lot of money to them. They’ll put your email address in one of their databases and sell these databases to professional spammers. Not only won’t your email address be removed from spam lists, it will added to many spam lists. And you’ll get more spam.
6. Set Outlook Express up so you don’t use the Preview Pane. Using the preview pane shows images in HTML mail. Using the preview pane to view mail actually “opens it”. So if a spammer sends you an email with graphics, the graphics can be used as Web beacons to tell the spammer that you’ve opened the mail. They’ll know your email address is valid and that you’ve read (or at least looked at) the spam email. Not using the Preview Pane is more convenient to me, at least, than blocking images in every email. Sometimes images serve a purpose. This newsletter is an example. With the preview pane turned off, you simply double-click the email to open it, images and all. If you suspect an email is spam, don’t open it. It’s simple. To learn how to turn off your preview pane in Outlook Express and Windows Mail (Vista) see this tutorial.
7. Never allow your ISP to convince you that spam filtering is a service. If you have a choice, choose an ISP who does not use spam filtering. While spam filtering might seem to be a service, anytime you allow another person to make choices for you, you’re going to end up with something you don’t like. What you won’t like about ISPs who filter your mail is that you’re not going to get all of your good email either – and you might not even be aware it existed. Do not use ISPs who tout spam-filtering or anti-spam features as a plus. If you don’t have a choice of ISPs in your area and your only choice is an ISP who insists censorship is good for you, get a Gmail account and set it up in Windows Mail, Outlook Express or your favorite email program. Gmail provides instructions on how to do this. And, remember, my fine friends, that Gmail also has spam-filtering too, but luckily for you, you have the final say. If something, like this newsletter, ends up in your spam folder, all you gotta do is mark it “This is not spam” and it will never be dumped in your spam folder again – it will always appear in your inbox where you want it (we hope!).