The best way to deal with spam is to avoid getting spam in the first place. That is not always an easy or obvious task. However, if you receive spam, the first question you need to ask yourself, is, why am I receiving this? Where did they get my email address from? Try to remember where you may recently have disclosed your email address.
It is possible that the email address has been scraped off a website or that you have used the email to sign up for something or submitted to a list somewhere online. Getting rid of spam thus caused is a lot tougher than simply improving the email security on a website. For instance, someone could search Google for “translators”, gather email addresses manually and then add them to a list, sell the list or send emails to it.
So, what should you do when you do receive spam?
- When receiving spam or unwanted mail, don’t just delete it. Firs, mark it as spam and then try to find out whether a number of mails originate from a single source. Then block the sender.
- Do not ever reply to spam. Don’t click “Unsubscribe” buttons (they just let spammers know that the address is active).
- Try to find out where the spammer may have found your email address. Then (if your email address needs to be displayed on a business webpage) either improve website security or try to remove your address from unsecured webpages. An “unsecured” webpage is a website where your email details are on display without being encrypted. These are easily available to people gathering email addresses for spam purposes.
How can you avoid getting spam?
- Don’t publish your email address where it can easily be picked up, like in forums.
- If your email address must be available online, make sure it is encrypted and/or secured by a honeypot device. Your web designer should know how to do this.
- Keep one email address completely private, friends and family only.
- Set up a separate email address for buying goods online, registering with online suppliers etc.
- Never reply to spam in any way.
- Make sure you know what you’re agreeing to when you sign up with a website (untick any “happy to receive emails” boxes).
For further reading on dealing with spam please visit the Business Excellence website, a magazine dealing with business-related issues.