Combatting Email Spam

Spam, Spam, Endless Spam….

It is just me, or is email spam getting worse? Last week, I noticed that I received a couple of hundred spam messages every day. It might have been especially bad because of Christmas, with vendors desperately trying to part you from your money. Of course, a few recent data breaches may also be to blame. But regardless of the cause, it seems to be getting out of hand.

Though it seems like a losing battle, there are some things you can do to minimize the amount of spam that you receive. One thing I do is have a fake “throwaway” email address that I use for those sites that require registration. It’s an address I never check and only use it in those instances where I don’t want to give out my actual email. I believe Apple’s iCloud mail now has an option to generate fake email addresses as well. If your provider doesn’t, then consider creating a new email address with one of the free services, such as Google.

Another thing you want to do is never respond to a spam message, and that includes unsubscribing (according to “spam experts”). All this does is let the spammer know that they’re sending to a valid email address, resulting in only more spam. As an alternative, add the user’s address/domain to your email client’s spam filter list. Most email programs offer the ability to add addresses of spammers to a spam list which then automatically moves any messages received from that address to the spam folder. That means you never see them — unless you check your spam folder.

My favorite method for eliminating spam — or at least my exposure to it — is using mail filters. What this does, is performs an action on a message that meets specific criteria. For instance, if a message subject contains a particular word or phrase, you can have your email program automatically delete the message or move it into your spam folder for you to verify later. I have a bunch of words and phrases that I use to filter my messages. Whenever an incoming message contains any of these phrases, it’s moved to my spam folder, and I never see it. Here are a few that I use (and I’m constantly adding to the list):

Last Chance
One Day Left
Black Friday
Cyber Monday
Time’s Running Out

You can also use filters to automatically delete messages from specific senders so that they never show up in your inbox. Using filters, spam lists, and fake email addresses, I actually never see the majority of spam sent to me.

So though you’ll probably never eliminate spam entirely (I get a couple every day that manage to sneak in), using a few methods, you can significantly reduce the number of sales/phishing messages you receive.

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