Why am I getting spammed?
Originally Posted March 2005 and Updated
There have been a couple of postings on PRSPCT-L recently about why subscribers are getting spam emails. Mass e-mailers tailor their messages to get through spam filters and blockers and constantly revise their strategies – they’re very devious and relentless.
Try a search on your email addresses and see where they’ve been published. A public email address can be something as “innocent” as your email in a PDF file in a brochure published on a web site. Robots constantly churn through sites looking for contact information 24 X 7. Don’t publish your email address anywhere unless you’re willing to accept additional spam.
Use some of the free email services such as Microsoft Live, Yahoo or Google for subscriptions, signing up for access to web sites, subscribing to email newsletters etc. If you start to get too much spam, you can cancel your account, create another, and sign up again.
More than 80% of all business collaboration is typically done through email.
Attempts at legislating spam have largely failed, and analysis suggests that the amount of spam continues to increase.
Time will tell, but individual vigilance and care on your part can make a difference.
I thought we’d be further on in terms of a solution by now. For the most part, spam filters have become pretty good at limiting most spam – but some always gets through.
When you have a public web site, and have to monitor the catch-all email address you still get hundreds. I tried blocking individual domains, but gave up after a few months as it was becoming a 15-20 minute a day exercise just to cut and paste the domains into the dialog for blocking, and they were still getting through.
The subjects of spam seem to go through patterns, Rolex watches various pharmaceuticals and for some reason I’m currently receiving all kinds of spam from South America. No idea why – and this is precisely why it’s so hard to block.
I’m still using all of the techniques I used in 2005 and previous and I’m probably even with the battle and not a lot further ahead.
I still like the technique of isolating all my subscriptions and sign-ups under one email address, and being diligent in unsubscribing when it’s obvious that some company has used the email for multiple purposes.
Here are some additional tips:
• Don’t reply to spam which will tell the spammer you’ve opened an email. This includes using an unsubscribe link in a spam email – these are often just additional collection points for the spammers.
• Most email programs have a junk e-mail filter – use it. Most email programs can move junk email into folders based on subject, domains and other criteria.
• You can block pictures and other external content in emails that are used to track whether you opened an email. You can turn off previewing altogether.
• Turn off read and delivery receipts.
• When you’re shopping, registering or downloading online, watch for check boxes that authorize the company to send emails, or emails on behalf of their partners. Many times these are already checked.
• It’s sometimes good to review a company’s web site’s privacy statement.
• Don’t send personal information in emails. They’re not encrypted and the information can be scraped.
• Don’t forward chain messages.
• There are some software solutions that can help such as those provided by some of the companies that provide virus protection. You’ll pay for these but they can be a good investment. Check and see if this is already included with your anti-virus software. It may just be that you have to turn it on. Follow safe software practices.
• It’s not just online you have to be wary off. Think about the last time you filled your email out on a paper form, where did it go and how was it used?
• If you have a public web site, use a contact form rather than your email on the site. Pay to keep your domain registration private. Most ISPs have spam blocking as part of your package, but check anyway before you select a host.
• If your email is going to be on a public site, have it encoded. For example [email protected], the code behind the email on the site might be yu, etc. A lot of spammers may get around this, but it can help.
• Use a unique email address. Spammers send out emails based on combinations of common names and domains.
• Don’t be afraid to confront an organization you feel may have used your email inappropriately – call their customer support and make a complaint. One of the tricks I used to use was spelling my name with different variations so I would know who had sold their list.
If all of the above fails and you’re still getting more than you can handle, think about changing your email address. Not at all an optimal solution – but it will stop the barrage for a time.