What Is Spam and How to Reduce It

Spam is a form of advertising that attempts to force a message through to people who wouldn’t choose to receive it by flooding the Internet with copies of that particular message. Email spam and Usenet spam are the main types of spam. Though spam is one of the most cost-effective advertising channels, its effectiveness can vary. If a fraction of those who receive a spam message decide to buy the product being advertised, the spammer would make a lot of money, perpetuating the spam problem.

Email spammers usually get recipient addresses by scanning publicly accessible sources, using programs to search the internet for addresses, and stealing internet mailing lists. Spamming has been legislated in several countries with varying results.

By forging or concealing the origin of a message, spammers can circumvent service provider regulations, anti-spam laws and the lists used by anti-spam applications. It’s believed that at least 95 percent of the email messages sent worldwide might be spam. Anti-spam tools are, therefore, much more important. Today, email users can use reverse phone lookup to identify people who contact them via email or phone. Many of us would like to know whether there is a way to stop spam. Unless we cut ourselves off from the internet, we cannot eliminate spam entirely. The most we can do is reduce spam. Here’s how:

1. Check your email service

Although it can have some unfortunate consequences, you should filter out most of the spam. Make sure you’re using an email service that has a good filter. If your email client does not filter spam, find one that does.

Today, most email services filter spam automatically, moving every suspicious message to a separate folder. Though it can save you plenty of time, the process is not perfect. Legitimate messages, known as false positives, are sometimes sent to the spam folder while some spam can trick the junk mail filter and end up in your inbox.

2. Train your filter

Before you delete spam from your inbox, select it and inform your email service that the message is spam. Every email client has a different way of doing this. For instance, Gmail has a “Report Spam” button located in the toolbar.

You must also train the email service about your false positives. Check your spam folder for messages that do not belong there. Do this at least once every day. If you find any spam, select it and inform the email service that it erred. Gmail has a “Not Spam” button for this purpose. With training, a good email service provider should learn from these mistakes.

3. Install and maintain a suitable anti-virus solution

Spam is often sent from virus-infected computers. Spammers and virus-developers are working together to compromise as many systems as possible using malicious programs that can spread rapidly. These programs are designed to generate massive amounts of spam that look like they have been sent from legitimate addresses. By installing and maintaining anti-virus software, computer owners can protect their systems against such infections and reduce the likelihood of becoming a source of spam without knowing.

4. Never respond to spam

Don’t open a message if you think it is spam. If by the time you realize it’s spam you’ve already opened it, close it immediately. Don’t download a file or click on a link if you have the slightest of suspicions. In case you open a spam that seemed to be coming from an acquaintance, contact that person as soon as possible and let him/her know their account might have been compromised. Make sure you report the spam.

5. Keep your email address private

The more your email address is known, the more spam you get. Publishing your email address on the internet is ill-advised. Hide your email address whenever you join chat rooms, message boards, and social networking sites. If you must, use an alternative address for such purposes. Displaying your email address to the world increases the chances that someone will add it to a mailing list.

6. Change your email address

Although changing your email address is a drastic option, it might be necessary in some cases. A complete change might be the best option if you unknowingly responded to spam at some point or you did not keep your email address hidden and are now overloaded with spam. Only your legitimate contacts should know about the change. It might take some time to migrate completely. However, your spam count should reduce as soon as you are done with the old address.