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Everything you want to know about email spam

An image of a mail basket

A cluttered mail basket

Also known as junk email, email spam involves various identical unsolicited emails sent to a list of email addresses. Although there is a law against the sending of spam, there are still companies that advertises their products by spamming. This is not surprising given that this method is cost-effective; with just a small amount, you can advertise to a larger number of people. Product advertisers are not the only ones who use email spam to their advantage. Email spams are also among the favorite tools used by scammers and cyber criminals to phish for important information such as credit card numbers and passwords. These are also used to spread viruses and malicious software on the web.

Why spams should be avoided

Email spams are most of the time confusing and annoying to recipients. Instead of going directly to messages they deem important, they still have to deal with the unsolicited emails, thereby, wasting some time and effort. Aside from this, spams also consume spaces in your email account. Apart from advertisements, spams may also contain messages from those who want to commit fraudulent acts to earn money. Some scammers would sent you an email spam containing a link to a certain website that is actually bogus. The author of the scam would tell you to follow a certain link. In some cases, the link leads to sites that would open your system to virus and spyware infection. There are also cases when the link would take you to fake sites that would seem to be authentic official sites of your trusted offices or institutions. The sites would then request you to fill in your personal information on the page. The information would actually be used by the scammers and cons to steal some money or for identity theft.

How spammers acquire email addresses and send spams

There are various ways through which spammers harvest email addresses, and one of these is by stealing Internet mailing lists. Email addresses could be taken by spammers from webpages of forums and online groups. There are also sites such as those of online stores that probably sell lists of email addresses to other companies. A more sophisticated way to get lists of email addresses is through spambot, an automated computer program that collects addresses online and creates mailing lists of spam recipients. Over the years, as computer technology has grown more sophisticated, spammers have also developed advanced tools. One of these is the spammer virus. The computers infected by this virus would serve as a tool for sending spams.

How to ward off spams

There are various ways to avoid receiving email spams. One is to activate your program’s spam blocker. Through this, you can avoid receiving more emails from spam senders. There are also spam-filtering software that you can download to protect you. You can download some software for free; however, there are those that are offered for a certain fee. It also pays to be cynical about the messages you receive, especially those from unknown senders. You have to ensure that the email is from a reliable source before you open it. Also beware of emails that encourage you to follow certain links or fill in certain forms. If you really need to post your email address on webpages (in case of newsletter subscription or joining forums), just create another one that you could use for other purposes such as for office or private emails. It is important that you report suspected spammers to your Internet service provider, or ISP, so it can help you filter the emails that you would be receiving.

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