Unsolicited commercial email, messages, and robocalls – better known as spam – are a nuisance at best.
You may not be able to prevent every single spam message from reaching your inbox, but you may be able to reduce the amount you receive. It can cost you money in several ways:
- Identity Fraud: It’s not always your money spammers, it’s your personal information. Thieves can use your bank account number or your social security number to steal your identity.
- Misplaced messages: If your email inbox is clogged with spam, real messages can easily be lost.
- Email Fraud: Those Same Spam Offers Are Not All Bad Offers – They Are Totally Fake. Several spam messages are email scams that can save your money.
- Malware: Some criminals use spam to inject malicious code called malware into your computer. Types of malware include viruses, worms, spyware, and adware. Once computer hackers install their malware, they can use it to steal information and financial information from them.
- Sales pitches: The whole point of spam is to sell you things – usually things you don’t need or want. But occasionally a message may go through that looks like you decide to track it down.
- Waste of Time: Spam can cost you dearly even if you don’t click on it. You still have to spend time clearing it out, and just like the old saying goes, time is money.
Here are some pointers that will help you identify spam messages so that you can easily delete them:
Check the email address along with the sender’s name. If it has a lot of numbers it is often a sign that it is a fake email address created for spam purposes.
If almost every word is misspelled, it’s a red flag. Spammers often spell wrong words on purpose to filter out spam filters. A common trick is to insert numbers instead of letters.
Some spam emails are “spoofed”, which means that their headers are changed to hide the identity of the sender. For example, some spam emails seem to come from big companies like Amazon or Citibank.
If you see fake links in an email, hover over the link to see the URL. If the link says it is the PayPal website but the domain in the URL is not “paypal.com”, then it is almost certainly a fake.
- Unidentified attachments.
The easiest way for hackers to get malware onto your computer is to trick you into installing it yourself. They send you an email attachment which, when opened, infects your computer.
- Request for personal data
They will try to trick you into providing your username, password, bank account number, credit card number, or social security number. All of this information can be used to steal your identity.
Many of them involve money in one form or another: sales, investment opportunities, loan offers, cash inquiries, sex and dating, new health treatments, “free gifts”, and package information that you don’t recognize when you order.
- Images instead of text.
Another way to avoid spammers is to use images instead of text. Often times, a large picture takes up most of the message. It usually contains large, eye-catching prints.
Some tips for stopping spam emails and reducing spam exposure.
If you receive a spam email from an unknown sender, don’t just delete it. Select it and mark it as a spam message. Sometimes an important email from a known sender is marked as spam by your email client. In such scenarios, you need to mark this email as safe in order to train your false positive email client.
If you received a spam email and recognized it before you opened it, do not open it. If you only find out that email is spam after opening it, mark it as spam and close it. Do not click links or buttons, or download files from spam messages.
- Use a third-party anti-spam filter
Most of the anti-spam solutions available today can be customized so that only approved emails can be sent to your inbox. There is free anti-spam software as well as paid anti-spam software.
- Please hide your email address
The more people you reveal your email address, the more spam emails you will receive. So keep your email address hidden from the public. Do not publish your primary email address on the internet unless you have to.
- Use alternative email addresses
Purchasing a product or subscribing to a company mailing list will automatically sign you up to receive unsolicited marketing updates from that company, or you can provide your contact information to a third-party advertising company.