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"Dealing with Spam"

Spam, what is it?

There's nothing worse than walking out to your mailbox, eagerly anticipating a message and finding your box stuffed with nothing but a pile of mass-mailed advertisements. Just as junk mail is a nuisance to pole-and-flag mailboxes, spam is the blight of the virtual e-mailbox.

Real spam is unsolicited bulk e-mail advertising for some product or service sent to a mailing list.

How do you determine if it is spam?

If you asked for it either intentionally or accidentally, it's not spam. If you opted to receive special messages from somewhere like Amazon.com, then you can't complain about Amazon sending you email. If your friend forwards an email and asks you to send it to 10 other people, that's annoying but it's not spam.

What can you do to help?

Since spam is predicted to increase at a rate of 20% annually our only hope is to employ a proactive solution. This can only be provided by action on your part. Consider and employ the following:

Don't reply to spam. A reply verifies to the spammer that your email address is active. Spammers sell this information to other spammers and the vicious cycle perpetuates.

Never respond to the spam e-mail's instructions to reply with the word "remove." This is just a trick to get you to react to the e-mail -- it alerts the sender that a human is at your address, which greatly increases its value. If you reply, your address is placed on more lists and you receive more spam.

Never sign up with sites that promise to remove your name from spam lists. There are some sites that are sincere, but most are just spam address collectors.

Stay anonymous. When a website asks for your name and email address, leave the email address field in the Web forms blank, or make up an outlandish address.

Remove all instances of your email address from websites. Spammers use email robots called mailbots to collect addresses from the Web.

Don't open email from unknown sources. A simple rule of thumb is that if you don't know the person who is sending you an email, be very careful about opening the email and any file attached to it. Should you receive a suspicious email, the best thing to do is to delete the entire message. Even if you do know the person sending you the email, you should exercise caution if the message is strange and unexpected, particularly if it contains unusual hyperlinks. Your friend may have accidentally sent you a virus.

Use caution when handing out your business card, if it has your internet email address printed on it. Consider removing the address the next time you have your cards printed.


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