When I was a kid, I ordered a gadget from the back of a magazine. Shortly after that, I began to receive “exclusive offers” from would-be mail order marketers. I was pretty excited to receive these letters in the mail. I thought it was cool. That is how I got my first credit card, and my first music CD, and countless other things offered to me as a special buy from what we call junk mail. I still get junk mail, but I don’t think it’s cool anymore. SPAM, is the digital equivalent of junk mail. Usually unsolicited, emails bombard us everyday in hopes of selling more vi@Gr* or get rich quick schemes. In this article, I will offer a number of solutions for this nuisance; assuming you think of spam as a nuisance.
Solution 1: Using email rules
Most email clients (applications or programs that let you read electronic email) have a way of sorting emails based on some rules. For example, you can create a folder within your email program and call it “family.” Then, you can create a rule that checks your incoming emails “from” field for firstname.lastname@example.org. If the mail is indeed from your uncle Joe, then the email will get sorted out to the “family” folder. In the same way, you can create a folder, and a rule or set of rules that would sort out spam by checking the subject for specific words or phrases such as *doctor, *pharmaceutical, etc. and sending the suspected email to the “spam” folder. Once there, you can quickly glance in the spam folder in case an innocent email has met the rule. Another more drastic measure would be to create a rule that sends these offending emails directly to the trash. But, I don’t recommend this because some important emails do get mistaken as spam sometimes.
Solution 2: Using a disposable email address
Internet Service Providers (ISPs) sometimes grant the use of more than one email account. Usually, a main email account that cannot change and a small number of piggyback email accounts. If you have this option, you can create disposable email account that you can destroy when you start receiving too much spam. Then, create another disposable email address. You can use the main email account to communicate with your family, friends, and reputable companies, and use the disposable email address to enter sweepstakes, drawings, or surveys that require you to have an email address to participate (and later sell your email address to spam for a profit.) Just remember never to give your main email address to anyone other than those you trust.
Solution 3: Get your own domain and email service
For about $10 per month, you can own your own email service with a personal name like email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. Once you own your own domain and email service, you call the shots. Consider the following scenario: Juan decides he needs to take control of his spam situation. So, he buys the domain “askjuan.net.” Now, Juan can create email addresses that are easier to use than the standard email@example.com. In addition, Juan now has complete control over his email and spam by using a combination of a tool called Spam Assassin and employing rules in his email client. Spam Assassin is a very easy to use free program that scores and tags each possible spam email. Juan’s email rules sort all the tagged email to a special folder for quick inspection. Juan has complete control of his spam situation. Juan is happy. In addition, with your own mail service, you can create an unlimited number of virtual email aliases. What that means is you can create an email address to subscribe to newsletters or jokes, and you can monitor who sells your email to spam. Say you subscribe to the Educate PC newsletter. You can just make up something like firstname.lastname@example.org. Since the epcnews email does not exist it will be forwarded to your actual email account. Now, if you start getting email addressed to epcnewswith content not related to the Educate PC newsletter, you’ll know that Educate PC sold or shared your email address to others. At this point you can create a rule to “trash” all mail coming for epc, and tell others not to subscribe to the offending service. Problem solved.
Spam is a nuisance, but it can be controlled. Using resources you already own, you can sort your mail so that you only read wanted emails. Some of you are lucky enough to have the “extra” email addresses you can use right from your ISP. But owning your own email service is affordable and the most effective way to defend yourself from that pesky spam. The best news is, I can help you set it up.