Newbie 101: Spam

image Spam.

No, we aren’t talking about the compressed meat in a can. This is the countless mail that flows into your email box. Thousands of messages coming at you from all ends, questioning if you can call them back, asking if you need to ‘enlarge’ certain areas of

your body, pushing you to purchase products, or inquiring about your personal information.

It must work right? Why else would these people continue sending you all this mail? Someone somewhere must look at one of these messages and say, "Wow that sounds like a great deal! Sure I’ll send my bank account information to you so you can transfer $500,000 to it! I can’t wait to retire!"

A basic rule about spam; if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Everyone who has ever had email has been subjected to spam. Once your name gets out there, its very difficult to get off that list. The key to reducing spam is to stop it before it occurs. Here are some tips on how to protect your mail box from spam.

1. Use a free email account for all your online registrations. Once you have signed up, its possible that the website will sell your email information to someone who may potentially spam you. This mail account will be your junk mail collection box. There are tons of free email accounts available, from yahoo.com, hotmail.com, or gmail.com.

2. Never publish your main email account in a forum, discussion group, or any other bulletin board. Spammers use spambots to crawl through text on website, and capture any text which looks like its an email address. I learned this lesson the hard way. I was selling a certain item, and posted my email address to the bulletin board where it was advertised. In a matter of hours, I suddenly was hit with tons of spam mail.

3. Do not reply to a spam’s "take me off your list" link. This is a trick. When you ask to take yourself off the list, you are in fact telling the spammer that the email address is valid.

4. Use a filtering program with your email. For example, MS Outlook has a built in spam filter where it learns as it goes. If you mark your mail as ‘junk’ it will remember not to deliver to you from your address, or immediately delete it. You can set this up to however you would like it to behave. Also,there are other programs out there that you can install that coincides with Outlook or Outlook Express.

5. Inform your kids not to use their email account or their personal information when they visit websites. My son is always trying to sign up on promotions he sees on TV. Pepsi or Coke always have some sort of contest going on where you have to enter your information in order to register on their site. If your child must participate, use fake information. If you do in fact win, you’ll still get the email message that comes to your junk mail account.

These tips won’t completely stop spam, but they will greatly reduce your chances of being harmed by it. Keep yourself informed and your computer protected. Check out the following links for more information and details on spam:

Stop Spam, from Spambusters.org

Wikipedia Spam Definition

Good News Web Designer’s Tips on Stopping Spam

Spam Filtering Products

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