What can I do to decrease the amount of junk e-mail that I get?

Question

What can I do to decrease the amount of junk e-mail that I get?

-Roger

Answer

This question was answered on August 16, 2000. Much of the information contained herein may have changed since posting.

Junk e-mail or “SPAM” is the world’s oldest e-mail profession It’s been around since the beginning and is only going to get worse as more people use e-mail as a primary form of communication If you belong to one of the many large services such as AOL, MSN, CompuServe, Prodigy, Hotmail or Juno you are much more likely to receive large quantities of SPAM because these services are targeted by SPAMMERS If you belong to a small regional ISP, your chance of getting large volumes of SPAM is more closely tied to your behavior while on-line Typically, the best way to get SPAMMED is to give out your e-mail address to websites that request it Depending upon the site, there are a couple of changes to your behavior that can minimize your chances of getting junk e-mail

Here are couple of tips in the battle against SPAM:

Tip 1: Don’t give your primary e-mail address to anyone that is selling products or services Sign up for one of the many free e-mail services such as Hotmail (www.hotmail.com) or Juno (www.juno.com) and use that address for any of your on-line purchases By doing this, you keep junk mail out of your primary account and if the junk mail becomes too much, simply stop using the free account and start another If you want to be able to track who is selling your e-mail address, use a different e-mail address for each of your merchants For example, create a Hotmail account using a unique identifiable name like [email protected] and only use that account when doing business with Amazon.com When signing up for these services, don’t use real information about yourself, unless you explicitly trust the source When downloading free software that requires you to give information, LIE, unless you trust the source.

Tip 2: Never reply to a junk e-mail message Even though the message claims to be able to remove you if you reply with “unsubscribe” or the like, in many cases it is simply a trick to get you to verify your address Because SPAMMERS incorporate automated tools that attempt to maintain their lists, you can actually use a trick to get yourself removed from the list Most mail server programs automatically remove addresses from what are called “bounced” messages Messages that cannot be delivered are bounced back to the sender Most of us have experienced a bounced message when we’ve misaddressed an e-mail to a friend or family member This same technique is a great way to get your address removed from a list A free program called <a href="http://www.er.uqam.ca/merlin/fg591543/bsm/"><font color="#003399">“Bounce Spam Mail”</font></a> will allow you to take any message and make it look like it was misaddressed, which in most cases will fake the SPAMMER into thinking that your address is invalid.

There are hundreds of e-mail filtering programs as well as options in virtually every e-mail program that can help you “manage” junk e-mail, but I would recommend prevention over management!

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Author

Posted by Ken of Data Doctors on August 16, 2000