Stop Spam!

Is it possible to stop spam? Probably not -- but you can significantly reduce it.

As pioneers to stop spam for the past 11 years, we predicted years ago that the spam problem would quickly get out of control. And, or course, it has.

Many of us get thousands of spam messages a day. In fact, ScamBusters gets many more than that. And one of our friends gets a staggering 250,000 spam messages each day! Yikes...

So, it's not surprising that people need relief -- they want to do whatever they can to stop spam.

Unfortunately, many of us now spend so much time filtering and deleting spam that our biggest concern has become that we not lose messages we really want.

Many double opt-in email newsletters are being incorrectly filtered, so recipients who sign up never know they've been sent. And even personal communication and one-on-one email is now regularly being filtered at the server level.

In fact, according to an article in Time Magazine, between 40% to 70% of all email is currently getting blocked by spam filters! That means recipients never have a chance to read it.

So, the cure has become as bad as the disease. This is especially true of some filtering solutions with over-zealous criteria.

Nevertheless, this article is about how to stop spam. So, here are 7 good tips that will help you dramatically reduce the amount of spam you receive.

Using these tips and resources, we've reduced the amount of spam we get by over 55%.

7 Tips to Help You Reduce or Stop Spam

1. Use a separate email address when you post messages to any public forum, such as newsgroups and mailing lists. Never use your personal email address for this purpose -- or you'll be flooded with spam. Then, you can quickly go through the email in this account to see what's spam and what isn't. And your main personal email address won't be as clogged with spam.

For example, AOL users can set up a special user name for free, and use that for their postings. Then, they can just discontinue that account if they start to get too much spam.

2. Consider acquiring multiple email addresses for different purposes. This helps you to identify different sources and senders, and lets you filter more effectively.

For instance, you may have one for personal use only by friends, family or colleagues that is never used to request information or to subscribe to newsletters, discussion lists, etc.

Another might be used just for sales inquiries or orders, or for making online purchases. This can be arranged through your ISP, web host or through any number of online email service providers.

Even free mail services like Yahoo! Mail and GMail can be used for this purpose.

3. You can subscribe to services online that provide you with disposable addresses that can be deleted if they begin to attract spam messages.

You can create a unique address for each email newsletter or forum you subscribe to. Then, when an email address begins getting spam, you 'throw it away' and start using another email address.

This works because the disposable email addresses actually forward to a real email address of yours. The software lets you track which addresses are getting spam, and you can just resubscribe using a new, spam-free address.

For information on what you need to know about disposable addresses, visit:
http://email.about.com/library/weekly/aa072002a.htm

Our favorite company that offers disposable email accounts is Sneakemail. It even has a free version:
http://sneakemail.com

4. Remove your email address from your website. If you list or link to your email address, you can expect to be spammed.

Address-harvesting robots will spider your site and extract them. So remove them wherever possible and use web-based forms instead. This will drastically cut down the amount of spam you receive if you have a website.

5. NEVER buy anything from a company that spams. Don't visit their sites or ask for more information. (If you respond to their spams, you're encouraging them to continue spamming -- they only need a tiny fraction of responses to be profitable.)

There's another reason not to buy anything from a company that spams: over 95% of spam offers are scams! In fact, not responding to spam is the single most effective way to not get scammed on the Internet.

6. Filter your email. Using filters is key to managing your email effectively. It may take a short time to figure out how to do this, but it's definitely worthwhile.

For more anti-spam filtering information, visit:
http://email.about.com/cs/spamfiltering/

For more on negative spam filtering, visit:
http://email.about.com/library/howto/htnegativespamfilter.htm

7. Consider subscribing to a spam prevention service. We're not enthusiastic about these services, but many people find them invaluable. They range from the good to the bad to the downright ugly, and from free to fee-based.

Many of these services are "challenge response" services. This means they require that people who send you email to respond by clicking, visiting a website, and/or typing in a code that only a human (not a spam bot) could do correctly.

Unfortunately, many people -- and most newsletter publishers -- simply refuse to participate. That's because it requires people who are sending you legitimate email to take THEIR time to ensure YOU get email.

In fact, many of us consider it rude for you to even ask.

Imagine a newsletter publisher like ScamBusters with 100,000+ subscribers. If even 20% installed this kind of system, that would mean the publisher would have 20,000 challenge/response requests. If each took only half a minute, that would be 167 hours -- or more than four weeks to reply!

Not very likely...

Tip: Make sure that any software or system you select gives YOU control of which email you get (and doesn't automatically erase messages).

On a related note, safeguard your newsletter and discussion list subscriptions. If you, your ISP or web host use spam filters or white lists, be sure to let them know that you want to receive messages from any newsletters or discussion lists that you subscribe to.

Do it as soon as you sign up... otherwise, it's very easy not to notice that you're not receiving them.

While these 7 tips may not actually stop spam, they will certainly help you drastically reduce the amount of spam you get.

Other Excellent Stop Spam Resources

CAUCE: Coalition Against Unsolicited Commercial Email
The online anti-spam organization. Their list of anti-spam resources is probably the best around.
http://www.cauce.org/about/resources.shtml

What Is Spam (And What Isn't)?
An insightful article by Walter Daniels on defining spam.

The Fine Line Between Legitimate E-Mail Marketing And Spam.
Some great info from Clifford Kurtzman, President of Tenagra Corp.

Spamprimer.com
Our friend Randy Cassingham has an excellent site devoted to getting rid of spam and other email 'pests.'
http://www.spamprimer.com/

Abuse.net
Includes a good description of how to complain to the spammer's provider.
http://spam.abuse.net/spam/

Junkbusters.com
Excellent links, resources, and news on how to reduce and perhaps almost stop spam.
http://www.junkbusters.com/ht/en/junkemail.html

 

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