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David Marchak
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Avoiding Spam

If you have email, you will get spam -- those unwanted, unsolicited advertisements that continue to fill your inbox, no matter what you do. At present, there is no way to completely eliminate spam (short of cancelling all your email accounts), but here are some hints to minimize the amount of unwanted emails you receive.

Do not include your email address on a public web site. There are many programs that can automatically collect email addresses by surfing the internet. On this site, I use a short java script code to display email addresses. Although you may see , a program only sees jemail("dmarchak", "paritek", "org", "an email link");.

Don't use your regular email address when signing up for things like chat rooms, or doing an online registration. Although they may require you to enter a valid email address, use one of the free email providers to create an account, then use that email address to sign up. It may take a bit longer, but you can throw away the email account once you have signed up.

Be creative with your email address. Once again, there are programs that can just pick random letters or words and attach them to known email providers. An email address like David@hotmail.com is too easy to figure out, while an email address like David13Mar16chak@hotmail.com is less likely to be the target of a random letter program. Of course, you may have a tough time telling people what your email address is.

Use spam-blocking provided by your ISP. Many internet service providers have options that allow you to reduce the amount of spam you receive. Take advantage of these, but be careful that you don't set the options to be so restrictive that you miss legitimate emails.

Consider purchasing spam-blocking software. There are programs that you can buy to reduce the spam you receive. The problem, as always, is telling the genuine emails apart from the spam.

Don't support spammers. There is a reason that spammers exist -- spam works. They may have to send a million messages to get $100 in business, but it costs almost nothing to send those emails. If you send them your money, you are just helping them send more spam.

Don't reply or unsubscribe to the spam that is sent your way. Once you send them a message, they will know that you exist (and probably tell all their friends, too).

If you have "always-on" internet access, install a firewall. The person sending out spam doesn't generate all those messages on their own computer. They find unsecured computers and install programs on them to send the spam from everywhere else.

Do not forward chain letters to everyone on your mailing list. You may be sending all your friends' email addresses to a spammer who is using the chain letter to collect email addresses.

Much of this information is based on an article in the August 2003 edition of Consumer Reports. Check out the magazine to see their ratings of spam-blocking software.

Content copyright 2001-2009 David Marchak
This page last updated June 15, 2009