A user usually starts to experience problems with spam once their email address is included into spammers’ databases. The directions below will help users to avoid such a risk.
How do spammers learn your email address
Scammers use several tricks to discover the email addresses of their possible victims:
- Scanning web sites;
- Scanning bulletin boards, forums, chatrooms, Usenet News etc;
- Selecting ‘easy’ addresses such as jonh@, mary@, alex@, info@, sales@, support@.
- Or by selecting ‘short’ addresses such as aa@, an@, bb@, abc@ through a simple search.
Considering the above, it is suggested that a user undertake the following measures:
1. Maintain at least two email addresses. You should use your private address for personal mail only. The public address should be the one you use to register on public forums, in chat rooms, to subscribe to mailing lists etc.
2. Never issue your private address on publicly accessible resources.
3. Your private address should be hard to spoof. Spammers use combinations of clear names, words and numbers to build probable addresses. Your private address should not simply be your first and last name. Be creative and personalize your email address.
4. If you have to issue your private address automatically, mask it to avoid having it harvested by spammers. Johan.Smith@yahoo.com is easy to harvest, as is Joe.Smith at yahoo.com. Try writing Johan-dot-Smith-at-yahoo-dot-com instead. If you need to publish your private address on a website, do this as a graphics file rather than as a link.
5. Treat your public address as a passing one. Chances are high that scammers will harvest your public address fairly speedily. Don't be frightened to change it often.
Registration on websites
Some Internet shops, conferences, forums, etc. ask you to enter your email address during registration. Sometimes your data may fall victim to spammers. This is not always as a result of hateful intent, but users are no better off for it. That is why:
- Always use your public address to register in forums and chatrooms and to subscribe to mailing lists and promotions. You might even think using a number of public addresses in order to trace which services are selling addresses to spammers.
I receive spam in spite of all the measures taken. What can I do?
If you don’t receive big amounts of spam and you are not forced by it, you should stick to the following rules:
- Never react to spam. Most spammers verify receipt and log responses. The more you respond, the more spam you will receive.
- Do not click on ‘unsubscribe’ links from dubious sources. Spammers send phony unsubscribe letters in an attempt to collect active addresses. You certainly don't want to have your address tagged as ‘active’ as it will just increase the amount of spam that you receive.
If it is impractical to put up with spam any longer:
- If your private address is exposed by spammers - change it. This can be difficult, but changing your email address does help you to avoid spam - at least for a while!
I did not give my email address to anybody but my close friends, however I receive spam all the time
Sadly your address may be stolen from your friend’s address book by an email virus (which is distributed throughout an address book). There is no way to avoid it – even if all of your friends have antivirus programs installed on their computers, their signature databases need to be updated frequently.
I need an address which can be used by anyone who wants to write to me
If you want to have a publicly-accessible email address, you must be ready to receive hundreds or even thousands of spam messages daily. If this is the case, here is a final piece of advice:
- Make sure that your email is filtered by an antispam solution. Consider installing a personal antispam solution. Only open email accounts with providers that offer spam filtration prior to mail delivery.