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Stop spam!

Spam is the common term referring to unsolicited commercial e-mail, or junk e-mail. Spam can be very annoying and time consuming, clogging your e-mail inbox with sales pitches, job offers and marketing schemes. Spam can also be obscene, often advertising adult products or containing pornography. Many Internet users have lost money or compromised their privacy by responding to malicious spam.


Spam is a problem with most Internet users because it works.  Spammers are trying to make money by advertising products at almost no cost. Believe it or not, most spammers are very successful at generating revenue and have become very wealthy in a short period of time.

Note: You can learn more about spam by visiting the US Federal Trade Commission's website using the following link:

» FTC: Online spam resource site

Why is there spam in your e-mail inbox?

Spammers buy lists of e-mail addresses from list brokers. List brokers collect e-mail addresses by "harvesting" them from the Internet. Your e-mail address can be harvested in a variety of places.

When you have five times as much spam as you do e-mail it’s time to take back control of your inbox. Learn how spam works and how to use tools to block spam with our free online class.

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The following list provides information around some of the most common methods your e-mail address can be collected:


Threats to your e-mail address and privacy violations

  • Chat rooms make e-mail harvesting easy. Information like your e-mail address is available for anyone to collect when you are messaging in public chat rooms.

  • Posting in newsgroups or forums may expose your e-mail address. Harvesters use software to automatically scour and record postings for e-mail addresses.

  • E-mail addresses posted to web pages receive spam. It does not matter where the addresses are posted on the site. If the address has the "@" sign, it will be harvested.

  • Responding to spam means you are asking for more. Once you have responded to one spam e-mail, the spammers will add your address to every list. Your address will even be sold to other spammers.

  • You forwarded an e-mail chain letter. Have you ever noticed that chain letters contain a long list of e-mail addresses of other Internet users? e-mail harvesters receive chain letters also, and your address may be in the list.

Note: e-mail harvesters use the latest technologies and are constantly developing new ways to build their lists and increase revenue.

How can you prevent spam?

The most effective way for Internet users to reduce spam is to stop making it profitable for spammers to send e-mail. Unfortunately, that may never happen. There are, however, specific steps that you can take to reduce the amount of spam in your inbox and protect your privacy.


Options you have to reduce spam

  • Never respond to unsolicited e-mail. If you respond to, or do business with a spammer, your e-mail address will be sold to other spammers. Responding to spam also tells the spammer that they have a valid e-mail address and you (their potential customer) are checking it.

  • Do not attempt to unsubscribe from the spammers mailing list. Spammers are required by law to delete your e-mail address from their list if you request to be removed. However, even if the spammer obeys the letter of the law they will immediately add your e-mail address to every other list they maintain.

  • Protect your e-mail address. Do not give your e-mail address to websites or companies without understanding and agreeing with their privacy policies. If you cannot find a stated policy, be safe and do not provide your address.

  • Consider using multiple e-mail addresses. Use one e-mail address for personal correspondence, another e-mail address for business and an anonymous e-mail address for everything else. Use the anonymous e-mail address for logging into chat rooms, registering downloaded software and posting on websites, newsgroups and forums.

  • Use a unique e-mail address. Your choice of e-mail addresses may affect the amount of spam you receive. Spammers use "dictionary attacks" to sort through possible name combinations at large ISPs or e-mail services, hoping to find a valid address. Thus, a common name such as jdoe may get more spam than a more unique name like jd51x02oe.

  • Use an e-mail filter. Check your e-mail account to see if it provides a tool to filter out potential spam or a way to channel spam into a bulk e-mail folder. You can also set up rules for persistent spam that automatically deletes them when they are received.


Report spam to your Internet Service Provider

  • You can let the ISP know about the spam problem on their system and help them to stop it in the future. Make sure to include a copy of the spam, along with the full e-mail header. At the top of the message, state that you're complaining about being spammed.

  • You can report spam to most ISP's by sending the spam to one of the following addresses using your ISP address:

abuse@yourispname.com or postmaster@yourispname.com.


Report spam to the Federal Trade Commission

Send a copy of unwanted or deceptive messages to the following e-mail address: spam@uce.gov


Note: the FTC uses the unsolicited e-mails stored in this database to pursue law enforcement actions against people who send deceptive spam e-mail.

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