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Whoa! Spam email is picking up!

You opened a spam email and have not turned off the "Automatically Reply" option, opppssss...

That junk is filling up my inbox even with filtering them ...

What about you?

In earl 2012 (April or May - I forget exactly) the US Justice Department took down a major operator.

This guy's operation spanned the globe and he boasted to have sent out over 10 Billion (capital B here) of them mostly through hacked computers (is your safe?).

Looks like someone has picked up where he left off after a short hiatus.

What can you do about these unwanted, intrusive, vile, and sometimes dangerous e-mails?

There are a couple of rules I follow when giving out my e-mail address:

  • Never give out you private email address.
  • If you want to keep the them from finding your real e-mail go to Yahoo! Google, or one of the other major search engines and sign up for a free email address.
  • Never give out your personal information to a web site that IS NOT a secure web site.

You can identify secure web sites by the McAfee, TRUSTe,  Verisign, or one of the other certifying authorities. (To find if the web site has a certificate you can always right click on the web page, go to the properties of the page. At the bottom will be a button labeled Certificates, click it. You can read the General, Details, or Certificate Path. You can also install the Certificate or read the Issuer Statement.)

Note: It is a good idea to check the certificate of a web site you use regularly then install the certificate. That way if a spammer is using the name of a company that you use and you and accidentally click the link in the email the browser will notify you that the link is not valid and will stop, you have to ok the action to actually go to the phishing web site. Some of the well know sites are: Bank of America, Best Buy, and Pay Pal.

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Some web based email services have a spam email filters, filters will help you with guarding against known email spammers and spam web sites but the spammers are fairly bright (but not smart) in that they know what the email services will tag as spam email and change around the wording in the email subject line and in the email itself.

Did you know that all your email is ran through a filter that reads the contents? Yup and it isn't your government doing this, it is the email service. The reason the email services instigated the filters was back in the early days of the internet and free email that came with an internet account were being bombarded with spam of all types, buy stuff, viruses, porn, and other nefarious ways to take your money.

I am not telling you to not apply for things or buy things on the internet, what I am trying to get across is to be more careful with that privilege that your ISP provides as part of their service.

We all have signed up for that "FREE REPORT!" and some of them are quite useful, some are barely readable, and others are just junk. So before you sign up for that free what ever look at the web page, do they promise to not sell or give your email address away? Do you see one of the above seals on the page?

How did you get to the place where the web page is asking you for your email address? Have you been there before? Does the web site have that sleazy feel?

Now you are saying, "Ummm, hey! I signed up for your newsletter or one of your e-courses!" You may have but I have promised to not sell or give your email address away and will not do so!

So how do the spammers get your email address to send you spam email? Here are a some of the ways:

  • You sign up for something to get it you have to give up an email address then you have to 'opt in' by answering an email sent to that address. This is to prove that the email address belongs to the person applying for the product. This is a normal procedure and one that I use. Most internet marketers/sellers/providers of services use this process. For the most part it keeps both parties honest.
  • Someone from a company or web service steals the email addresses of the clients and your email address is in the stolen data. (this is an inside job and happens once in a while, not much can be done about this, hopefully the thief will get some jail time when they are arrested).
  • The last one is the bad one, it is called phishing. A spammer/thief has a list of email address that they either stole or bought from someone that collects email address from nefarious operations. They send out an innocent looking email to all those email address. The message may be junk, it may make sense, it may just have a link to a web site. What the spammer wants is for you to reply to his email, if you go to the link (very bad idea) or reply to the email (very bad idea) they know that the email address is valid.

How do you protect yourself from these attacks on your privacy (email is a private communication between you and the sender or recipient) through email?

If you use a client/server based email system such as Outlook and an Exchange Server you can turn off the 'Automatically Reply' message. This tells the sender that you read the message.

Before spammers this was a good idea, sometimes email is important to the sender and the recipient so having the notification there tells the sender that it was opened, it doesn't tell the sender it was read. If the email was deleted before being read there is a reply to the sender telling them that it was deleted but not read.

This is good for a company but the email system needs to be a 'closed' system or the spammers would get the notification of live email addresses - inside a company - not good.

This one is a little harder to do: Only open email from sources you are familiar with, friends, family, companies you deal with.

Read the subject line, most spammers use misspelled words to get past the filters, if you do open a phishing email never click on any web site links in the email.

If you use a web based email system such as Yahoo!, GMail, or Hotmail use their spam email spam/junk filters to trap the spammers.

Remember when you reply to a spam email you are confirming your email address. The more of these emails that get sent to never-never land the better.

Will spam email go away? Probably not, but everyone can reduce the impact on the internet by dumping them instead of answering them.

My $0.02...

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