You’ve Got Junk Mail

FIGHT BACK

You can report a spammer to a site that will notify the spammer’s network administrator, who can then turn off the spammer’s account:
www.spamcop.net
www.spamcon.org
www.cauce.org
E-mail filtering services:
www.contactplus.com
www.mailwasher.net
www.eprompter.com
www.spamex.com
www.brightmail.com

As wonderful as e-mail is for keeping up with family or conducting business while on the road, it also opens the door to a deluge of unwanted mail, known as spam. Not only is it annoying, but it is also costly. You shouldn’t have to waste your online time checking and deleting unwanted offers to consolidate your debt or to have certain body parts enlarged or to make $100,000 a year from the comfort of your living room.

There is no sure-fire way to train your computer to spit out the spam before it reaches your inbox, but there are ways to strain out a lot of it.

USE A FILTER. Some Internet service providers have filters that block e-mail from known spammers. Usually you have to turn these filters on yourself. Even if your ISP has a filtering tool, it won’t catch all the spam, and sometimes it will block legitimate e-mail, so be careful.

OPT OUT OF A LIST. Responsible e-mail marketers will provide a way to decline future e-mails. If an e-mail has a well-written opt-out section, you can generally follow the instructions and get taken off the list. On the other hand, if it’s a poorly written opt-out statement that doesn’t explain why you’re getting the e-mail, don’t reply to it or click a link to unsubscribe. In such cases, replying to the e-mail often serves only to let the spammer know that your e-mail address is indeed active.

KEEP ADDRESSES PRIVATE. Refuse to give your e-mail address to anyone unless it’s absolutely necessary. For example, if you want to download a piece of shareware, don’t fill in your e-mail unless it’s required. One trick that will usually fool forms that require an e-mail address is to use a nonsense address like a@a.com. Do be careful about using addresses that might belong to real people, though – they don’t want spam any more than you do.

The most unethical spammers use automated programs that scour the Web looking for e-mail addresses. So if you post a message on a message board that contains your e-mail address, chances are good that you will end up on a spammer’s list sooner or later. Some service providers will also sell your personal information to advertisers, so you should look for an ISP that has a policy of not giving out your e-mail address.


THE REAL SPAM

What does an Internet term have to do with a luncheon meat invented in 1937? Hormel Foods says use of the term spam for unsolicited e-mail was adopted “as a result of the Monty Python skit in which a group of Vikings sang a chorus of ‘Spam, Spam, Spam’ in an increasing crescendo, drowning out other conversation. Hence, the analogy applied because UCE (unsolicited commercial e-mail) was drowning out normal discourse on the Internet.”

Visit www.spam.com for other delicious canned Spam oddities, including retro e-mail greeting cards. The Spam website offers nostalgic greeting cards.

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