How to Fight and Beat Everyone’s Email Enemy
With over 90% of all emails being spam these days, we’ve all received those unwanted e-mail messages from people promising to help us lose weight or make a lot of money, not to mention all those “unmentionable” e-mails. Take heart–there are several steps you can take to reduce the number of those junk e-mail messages you receive.
One great option available to Genesis Tech web hosting customers is our automated Spam Filters which can filter into a junk mail folder that you can check periodically (just to make sure nothing that you wanted to receive got classified as spam.) Of course, there are a lot of other steps you can take to further eliminate the spam menace.
DIFFERENT EMAIL ADDRESSES FOR DIFFERENT PURPOSES
First, be careful who you give your main email address to. If you want to be able to sign up for contests, etc., it is best to use an email other than your main work email. For instance, you can use outlook, gmail, yahoo, or other free address for all of your personal emails, like all the jokes you’ve already received three or four times, or for spam resulting from your decision to sign up for free offers, etc.
That way, you don’t have all that junk vying for your attention when you’re trying to get work done. Think of your main business address as you would your mobile phone number….you don’t give that out to just everyone, do you? Speaking of personal emails, keep in mind that you don’t know where all those forwards go after you send them out. When you forward jokes or other e-mail to several people, be sure to use the “blind cc” option instead of listing everyone under “to:”. Then, delete the long lists of all the previous recipients’ e-mail addresses from the body of the message. Last, be sure to ask all your e-mail buddies to do the same.
Also, when you sign up for on-line agreements, look for a box that might already be checked for you that says you agree to hear about other offers from that company, and even from that company’s “partners”. This is one way that you get on mass distribution lists. You can usually uncheck the box and still get the same offer you’re signing up for.A tip that might not seem logical but is important — don’t reply to spam, even if it is to request to be removed from their list. Although reputable companies honor such requests, less-reputable spammers will only use your reply to confirm that your email address is real, and they’ll send even more spam your way. You can also report spam to the sender’s email provider. (One way to figure out who that is, is to right-click on the sender’s information and click on “Properties”. )
If you have a website that lists your email address, spammers can “harvest” your e-mail address off the website. It seems like a “Catch 22”, because you want people to be able to contact you off your website, yet you don’t want spammers to find you. It is possible to list your e-mail address without making it a hyperlink so that this won’t be a problem. Or, you might consider using a distribution-list or generic-sounding email (that probably would be spammed anyway), like firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com, and then you can use a filter in your email software to put these emails in a separate email box that you check a little less frequently than your main email.
FILTERS – Saving you time when you check your email
While we’re on the subject, let’s consider the e-mail filters offered with most e-mail programs. You may not realize it, but you can send emails to different inboxes. You might want to have all the emails that list you as “cc” go to a different folder from those that have you in the “to” field. Or, you might want to have only emails from people in your address book go to your main inbox, with other emails going to a separate box that you don’t check quite as often. Different programs have different options for filtering. For instance, in Outlook Express, under Tools, you can click on Message Rules and then Mail to set up criteria for messages to be deleted automatically. Under Message Rules, you can also go to Block Senders to create a list of addresses you do not wish to receive any mail from. In Outlook, look under Actions and then Junk Mail for similar options. Whatever program you use for your e-mail, you can check the help screen for more information about how to filter your incoming e-mail.
WHITE LISTS AND BLACKLISTS – Controlling who can send you emails
For our Genesis Tech email customers, you can set up special lists to help control email. If your filters are filtering out email that you wanted to receive, like newsletters, you can add those senders to your “white list”, so that emails will get through the filter and into your inbox. On the other hand, if the spam filters aren’t recognizing some messages as spam, you can add those senders, and even their domains, to a “black list”, so that all those messages will be blocked from coming to your inbox.
WHAT IF I DIDN’T KNOW HOW TO DO ALL THAT BEFORE, AND NOW THE PROBLEM IS OUT OF HAND?
If your spam problem is just too severe, you can also change your e-mail username with Genesis Tech if you feel there is just no end to the spam. This isn’t the most convenient solution, since you need to notify everyone in your address book of you new address, but it can help in extreme situations. (By the way, if you do this, be sure to email everyone from your old address to tell them of the change, in case they have filters going that would put your new address in a junk folder.) When you choose your new address, be sure not to use a dictionary word or common name, so that computer-generated spam lists won’t as easily find your address. We’d be glad to help advise you of good options for new addresses.
IDEAS FOR YOUR NEW EMAIL ADDRESS
If you currently use your first name, like firstname.lastname@example.org, consider changing it to be your first initial with last name, like email@example.com. Those combinations are a lot harder for spammers to guess at. The spammers have software that searches for all common first names, and some of them can even search for those first names followed by a single initial, so we don’t recommend doing an address like firstname.lastname@example.org. Of course, if your name really is something as common as Joe Smith, you might want to get extra creative and include a middle initial, use a nickname, etc.
For more tips on how to avoid spam see the FTC’s site, www.ftc.gov/spam.
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