SPAM – unsolicited email; mail you receive in your electronic mail inbox that you didn’t request and you don’t want! If you don’t get spam, then you need to be telling us your secrets of how you avoid it….!

Notice the question is how to MINIMIZE the amount of spam. It is unlikely you will eliminate all spam.  As already noted in a previous blog, about 80% of email is spam, so minimizing it will truly make managing your email easier and safer. Here are some highly recommended best practices to consider and implement to reduce receiving spam mail.

Don’t give out your email address to anyone except those with whom you want to correspond.

Don’t spam other people.

o Be a considerate and responsible user. Some people consider forwards as spam so be selective and considerate about whom you send forwards to.

o Be discrete about distributing email to multiple users. Resist using the CC option.  Instead, send the original email to your own email address and use the BCC option for those in your distribution list. This option means that all the addresses will not be seen by the other recipients in your distribution. This is a courtesy that protects the privacy of your friends’ addresses.

Use separate, free Web mail accounts like Gmail and Yahoo to do online shopping or correspond with retailers and those with whom you infrequently correspond.

o These accounts have built-in spam filtering.

o You can abandon these accounts easily if you start to get too much spam.

o Consider using this option if you have to post an address on chat rooms, newsgroups, contact lists, etc., as spammers “harvest” addresses from these types of sites.

Don’t Ever use the “Remove Me” option to try to get off mailing lists. NEVER!

o This only confirms to spammers that your email address is valid and a real person has read their spam. It ensures you will get more spam.

Don’t Click on Links in Spam messages. This also confirms that your address is valid and a real person is ready to respond.

Use Fake Addresses when completing web-based sign up forms.

o If possible, write out an address – username (AT instead of @). A robot that is trying to “harvest” your address cannot read that address.

Read Website Privacy Policies. If there is no privacy policy but you want to/have to post an email address, then consider an alternate web mail account as suggested above. But don’t give out any personal information!

Report Spam to your Internet Service Provider (ISP).

Mark Spam as such in case spam does get into your mailbox. Doing so helps train your mail filter to recognize spam.

View Email in Plain Text, rather than HTML when possible.

o Spammers can track when a user opens mail with a linked graphic file that is sent as HTML mail. Disabling automatic downloading of graphics in HTML mail and using plain text prevents the spammer from tracking you.

o Note: HTML makes email more attractive but the trade-off is the tracking possibility. Disabling HTML varies with the ISP or email client so doing a search on how to do this is recommended.

Be aware of and cautious to sign up to receive product and service alerts.

o Your email address and personal information can be shared with/sold to spammers if there is no privacy policy.

Be Extremely Cautious using Social Networking Services!

o Useful and fun as these services are, they create huge vulnerabilities for loss of personal information, identity theft, viruses, bot net control, and spam, to name a few things.

o The dangers of social networking will be the subject of another blog….. Stay tuned.

Using these recommendations will minimize the amount of spam you receive, will add to your reputation as a responsible cyber citizen and will enhance your own cyber and personal security — not to mention make it a little bit more difficult for spammers to be so profitable….. Yes to that!