Spam is the common word for junk e-mail or more properly UCE (unsolicited commercial e-mail). Those who send spam will claim that they are doing no harm. An e-mail causes no pollution or material waste and all you have to do is hit the delete button on the keyboard and it's gone. If you were to receive only one of these such messages every once in a while there could be justification for the no harm mentality when sending out spam. The real problem is when the quantity factor comes into play, when a significant number of people have this "no harm, no foul" attitude. Each individual e-mail is not a problem, but when you receive 10, 50, 100 or more a day the burden of deleting each of these messages becomes significant. For businesses with employees on the payroll the company has to spend money on wages for their staff to "delete" the spam. At a modest estimation of 10 minutes a day for spam elimination a company is wasting over 40 man hours per year per employee in spam elimination fees. When looked from this perspective it becomes clear that spam is not as harmless as is claimed.
How do you get put on a spam list?
Have you ever forwarded an e-mail? Have you ever received an e-mail that had been forwarded? Have you seen the list of names and e-mail addresses that appear on those messages? This is one way that your name gets put on the spam list. Especially those touchy feely messages that claim that you've been "cyber hugged / some message from god / you are a young child with a terminal illness" and that you should send this out to twenty people including the person who sent it out to you. If you receive one of these messages it is very likely that the person who sent it to you is someone harvesting e-mail addresses and selling them. Another way of getting put on a list is by signing up for something that's free. Like winning a car at the local mall drawing, free Internet access, free e-mail or something similar. This is a gimmick used to collect information, whether you fall for the gimmick is up to you. Just in case you have been living in a cave somewhere on a deserted island I'm going to give you some advice, nothing is FREE.
So what do you do?
Preventative measures are the first line of defense. Whenever you send out a message to many people at one time you should always use the "BCC" (blind carbon copy) method of sending. This prevents the recipient from seeing the e-mail addresses of those to whom you send messages. When you forward a message you should edit the message to eliminate the addresses of the previous recipients, this is good manners in the e-mail world. When you receive one of those touchy feely messages that you are supposed to forward, don't do it. Remember that these are created by some nefarious person who is preying on your good nature to spread their evil.
Do removal services work?
When you receive the spam there is usually a very small paragraph or sentence on the very bottom that claims to be a way for you to get yourself removed. This looks like a very tempting and legitimate way to eliminate the problem. Don't be fooled this is another common trick that is used to help spammers validate that their list contains legitimate e-mail. When you send a reply asking to be removed you are only confirming that the address is legitimate and will stay on the list. The removal instructions only work with a legitimate honest business. How do you know if the business is legitimate? You can look for telltale signs such as you have seen or heard of them in other advertising mediums. Another way is that you have previously conducted business with this company. This is no guarantee however. Beware, you might just be doing the opposite of what you want.
Learn how to use your e-mail program
Most e-mail programs have features that can help you with the problem. These features are known a junk e-mail filters and allow you to establish rules about how to deal with spam. With the filters you can create rules about who is allowed to send you a message, what types of subjects are appropriate and more. It takes a while to set up but once you have it working you can automatically send those pesky junk e-mails right into the deleted items folder.
On Microsoft's outlook 2000 click on the organize button to get into the junk e-mail management tools. Once clicked the screen will open up a new area where you can create new rules and add e-mail senders to your growing list of spammers. The larger your filter list is the less you are going to be plagued by spam.
Here we have a message that has been received from someone calling themselves "GamblerMagnet". I don't want anything from them, I never signed up for their solicitations and I don't want to be bothered by their spam. I have their spam e-mail highlighted and I click the organize button on the tool bar. Then I can create a rule that now sends any message from GamblerMagnet straight into the deleted items folder. Keep repeating this process for each unwanted message and soon you will find your e-mail becoming more manageable.
If you feel that you need to prevent the message from being sent in the first place you can also try calling on the company on the telephone. Let the company know that you do not appreciate being sent messages and that you will not be purchasing products or services from them. You can also complain to the company who is hosting the companies web site. This will only work with legitimate businesses however. Write to your government officials and ask to have anti spamming laws passed.
Just relax, lean how to use e-mail filters and go on with life.
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