There is really no way to totally eliminate SPAM. There are several good ways to minimize it though. First, you need to understand that SPAM is illegal. That means that everyone sending bulk distributions must abide by the law and have an opt-out/Unsubscribe option. This is where the bad guys have turned this law from a lemon to lemonade situation for them. I decided to write about SPAM after reading an article from a colleague that I totally disagreed with. His solution to eliminate SPAM was to opt-out every time he received a SPAM e-mail. From personal experience and that of many others, I have determined that the absolute dumbest thing that you can do is respond to SPAM. The dirtbags are not giving you an opportunity to remove your address. They are validating that your e-mail address is "live". If you think you got a lot of e-mail previously, just wait to see what happens now. The exception to this rule is if you get a legitimate company that solicits you, their opt-out will likely be safe. When I see the following signs, I know the dirtbags are trying to get me. Watch out for:
1) When an e-mail is offering a reward, voucher or certificate from a national brand. Run your mouse over the sender's address. It will usually have the legitimate brand name and then a personal address at g-mail, yahoo, .uk or some other wacky extension. Do not respond to these! Ignore and delete only.
2) Scroll down below the Opt-Out to see if there is a ton of gibberish print. If there is, it's spam and this is included to fool the SPAM detectors. Do not respond, just delete.
3) Anytime you click on the opt-out link and you see a weird address like sixtofouryellow.com, do not do it. The biggest tip off that these are scams is the fact that when you opt out, they ask you to fill in your e-mail address. Duh! If they are legit, they know your e-mail address and don't need to ask for it.
4) Same goes with the opt-out links. The really bad guys are doing far more than cluttering up your in box. In some cases, clicking on an opt-out link can trigger Malware or Viruses to be downloaded to your computer. Run your mouse over the opt-out and if it gives you a bogus URL weblink, don't do it.
I try to set up filters and rules but the spammers are always one step ahead. If your e-mail program has a "bounce" option, this is a good idea as the spammer only wants to resell legit e-mail addresses. When you see a bogus e-mail address with a name brand, you should feel even worse for that person. Chances are their e-mail address was hijacked and is associated to the SPAM you just received.
Fortunately, G-Mail has the latest SPAM filters and eliminates this crap before it even hits their users mailboxes. SPAM will be placed in your SPAM box for 30 days before being deleted. It's a good idea to go in there periodically to look for legit e-mails that went in by accident. Yahoo also has a pretty good SPAM filter system. In the case of Outlook, they provide a Junk filter that is set for low by default. You can increase the strength of the filter by clicking the Home tab and then clicking Junk. Select the “Junk E-mail Options”. Then click the Options tab and set the filter to the strength you want. Again, you will likely find legitimate e-mails that matched the profile of SPAM so check your JUNK daily. The Spammers are utilizing the opt-out law and human nature. Most people are angry and want to immediately demand to be removed. I had to laugh because I just read about another colleague who made the exact same mistake recently that I made over 5 years ago. He not only requested removal but signed it Mr F**K You. I'm semi-embarrassed to admit I did the exact same thing right down to the name, except I was, Dr F**K You. I received 10 times more e-mail, much of it addressed to Dr You.
If you want pay back, before you delete your spam, forward it to: email@example.com. This is the Spam box for the FTC (Federal Trade Commission). They say mail sent to this box is investigated. If it is indeed spam, the original sender could be charged $500 per email. The more mail they get from different users but same spammer, the more it's likely to be investigated. This couldn't hurt!
Joel "Dr Wireless" Saltzman is a long-time wireless analyst. He produces a wireless news segment and is live every Wednesday afternoon @ 4:00pm with the latest Wireless Industry News on the Robert Cardoza Live Show.