Reduce Spam in Your Inbox

Not only is spam annoying but it can be dangerous, as it may contains viruses. These steps will help cut down the amount of spam sent to your inbox.
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Written by Staff Writer • Posted on Aug 18, 2014

If you own a computer, you're probably familiar with spam — otherwise known as junk mail messages. Unfortunately, it’s something everyone has to deal with. A couple of weeks ago, we discussed what exactly spam is. Not only is spam annoying but it can be dangerous. It often contains viruses and harmful attachments. Spamming is illegal. But despite laws in place attempting to prevent it, there’s no real way to stop it. Most email systems have some kind of junk or spam filter, sending junk messages directly to a specific folder so you don't have to even worry about accidentally opening a harmful email. But occasionally, spam does get through. Today we're going to look at some simple steps you can take to help cut down the amount of spam that makes it into your inbox.

  1. Have an alternative email account.Create a secondary webmail account that you use when signing up for memberships and accounts on the Web — you can easily do this for free. It might seem like a hassle to have a second email address and password to remember. However, if you use your secondary email address when registering to any type of subscription-based service, filling out warranties, downloading software, newsletters, posting on Internet discussion boards, and even social networking sites, it will dramatically cut down on the amount of spam you get in your primary email account. Only use your primary email account for verified contacts that you know and want to receive emails from.
  2. Manage your spam or junk filters setting. Most Internet service providers, as well as email providers, have some sort of automatic spam filtering built in. Most these filters allow you specific control over the settings so you can regulate how strong these controls are. If you’re receiving a lot of spam, you might want to customize those settings instead of leaving them on manual. Each email's filter settings are different but you can usually block specific email address that you continue receiving spam from. You can set subject line keywords that will divert anything with a specific word like “mortgage”, “loan”, “discount”, or “Nigeria” to a specific folder to be examined later or delete automatically. Explore you email settings to make sure it’s filtering everything you would like.
  3. Always be careful when making purchases online. Read online and offline forms that ask you to provide your email address. Every reputable e- commerce website offers information on how it processes your order. Typically this information is found under "Privacy Policies". Most people don’t read privacy policy because they're long, but it's always a good idea to know where your money is going. This is where you can find out if a company intends on sharing your information to a third party company. If they do share your information, you can pretty much expect to get spam. Also when purchasing any product online there is typically a box asking you if you would like to receive more information or special offers. Most people in a hurry just continue processing there order without looking for this little box. Leaving that little box checked will definitely result in spam.
  4. Never open a spam message. By simply opening a spam message you can open yourself up to receiving more spam. It’s possible when you open a spam message the sender will be notified or alerted the message was open. This just encourages the spammer to send more spam. This simple action can subject your computer to viruses that can use your computer to send spam to others or even steal personal information. You should never click on a link or URL in a spam message; it can result in the same thing happening or worse. Many people think by opening the spam message and hitting the “unsubscribe” link that this will eliminate more spam coming from that particular sender. But sometimes it's hard to recognize if an email came from a reputable company, and any link in the email could be dangerous. Clicking such links just lets the spammer know that you opened and read the email, inviting them to send more. If you see a suspicious message from someone you don't know, you can flag it as spam, and then your email software will learn from this and help identify it as spam in the future.
  5. Use spam-blocking software. There is no spam filter software that is guaranteed to be 100% effective, but there are programs that can help you with a majority of junk and spam. If you’re receiving a large amount of spam and can’t seem to get it under control, you might benefit from spam filter software. They work by adding an additional layer of filters or priorities set by you. They can review content in a message to determine if it's spam, review email headers for false information, search for specific trigger words, and require anyone sending messages to be pre-approved by the recipient.

Don’t be afraid to report spam. You can report the spam to online services like SpamCop or to the Federal Trade Commission. This can help eliminate spam from your mailbox and help others from receiving the same spam. Spamming is a multi-billion dollar industry that is not going away. Undeterred by the law, spammers are constantly working to improve their tactics and assure that their message reaches your inboxes. By following the above steps, you can drastically reduce the amount of spam you’re receiving. In future posts, we'll look at specific spam filters programs and compare them. Questions? Perhaps you have personal experience dealing with spam? Let us know how you dealt with it — leave a comment a below.