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Spam Mail: How to Stop Junk Email from Clogging Your Inbox

Anybody who has an email account knows all too well about spam. They could be nonsense emails from addresses you don’t recognize or bulk messages from some company’s mailing list. Regardless, they can be downright annoying and if you’re not careful, can even compromise your online safety.

What is it?

Spam email, also referred to as junk email, pertains to unsolicited emails sent to a usually large list of unsuspecting recipients. While they can be sent by actual humans, most of the time, a botnet is responsible for sending them. This is a malware-infected computer network that is controlled by an attacking party. Spam is not only confined to email as it can also be sent via social media or text.

While considered to be an inevitable downside to using email addresses, spam messages can be quite annoying. If one does not delete them regularly, they can easily clog up your inbox. Then there’s also the threat they come with. Most spam senders are always trying to find ways to trick recipients into sharing their data, downloading malware, and even sending money.

What’s it for?

Spam messages are typically commercially driven or have a financial motive. It’s not uncommon for spammers to try and sell goods with dodgy quality at exorbitant prices. They are also known to make questionable claims to trick recipients into buying something from them.

Among the most popular spam subjects nowadays are:

  • adult content
  • pharmaceuticals
  • online degrees
  • financial services
  • cryptocurrencies
  • online gambling
  • work-from-home job opportunities

Why am I getting it?

Many people often wonder how come they are being sent all these random messages despite the fact that they have not signed up for them. There are several ways spammers can get a hold of your email address.

For one, you may have unwittingly signed up for marketing emails or newsletters. It’s not uncommon for companies to buy lists of prospective buyers to which they then send promotional offers, even without the recipients’ consent.   

Why is it a problem?

Spam emails can be sent out for a variety of purposes. For instance, there are phishing emails that are intended to trick recipients into providing the spam sender with tier personal information, including your credit card number, date of birth, and passwords. A good number of spam messages are more malicious too as they are intended to hijack or damage the recipient’s system. Ransomware, spyware, and trojans are among the most common types of malicious spam sent worldwide.

Back in the day, most spam emails are focused on using viruses. This is not as effective anymore as modern computers are more equipped at patching security holes and implementing updates automatically. Today, spammers are known to focus their efforts on social attacks. Most would impersonate real people and real companies in an effort to exploit human weaknesses as modern computers are becoming more sophisticated.

How to stop spam?

Is your inbox getting clogged by emails from people you don’t know? If you’re getting tired of having to wade through junk mail to get to important messages, here are some tips to unclog your inbox and stop these annoying emails for good.

Don’t readily share your email

Always treat your email address as critical personal information— something you don’t want just anybody to get a hold of. As much as possible, keep it private and refrain from revealing it in online forums including message boards and questionable websites. You can also get spam by signing up for websites that let you download content, or registering for freebies.

Websites can sell email addresses to companies that will then send you advertisements, promotions, and newsletters of whatever products or services they are offering. They do it even without your consent. As such, always be cautious about where you share your email address and who you share it with.

Have a secondary email account

If an email address is required to access a particular site, you can use a throwaway email address instead. This way, you get to still sign up with them without revealing your actual email address. Thus, avoiding getting spammed in the future.

To make sure your identity does not get revealed in the throwaway email address you’ve created, you can create an alias. Avoid using your real name, real address, and other pertinent information so malicious online entities won’t get a hold of them.

Maximize your spam filters

Upon getting spam emails, most people would usually just delete them right away or have them archived. However, simply deleting junk mail will not stop spammers from sending more. Making the most of your spam filter is the best way to get rid of them for good.

If you’re using Gmail, select the spam email you want to deal with. Then hit the “Report Spam” button. This is the button with an exclamation point right at the top of the window, right next to the trash and archive buttons. If you’re on Mac’s Mail app, just select the spam email you want to report and then click on the “Junk” button. You can also train Mail for spam filtering. Just enable junk mail filtering via Preferences.

Keep your email address hidden

Leaving your email address exposed and out in the open is like an invitation to spammers who will not hesitate to send you junk stuff. It is always a good idea to keep your email address hidden online. This is especially true if you have social media accounts.

Whether you’re on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, or any other social media platform, make it a point to keep your email address hidden from prying eyes. Explore your social media account settings and make sure that your email address is set to be visible only to you. If that is not possible, then set it to where only your friends can see it.

Never respond to spam 

When spam emails are getting annoying, it is very tempting to respond to them and rant your heart out. Whatever you do, however, responding to junk mail should be the last thing on your list. Don’t even respond to them asking to have your name removed from their mailing list.

Tactics like these never work. The reason being you’re only confirming to these spammers that your email address is active. The moment scammers get any indication that an email has been received or opened, this gets you marked for even more future spam. If you have auto-load images turned on, turn it off, so spammers won’t be able to utilize any tracking pixels.

Also, be security smart online. Using a unique and strong password never hurts. If you have two-factor authentication, then be sure to activate that for your account. If your email provider has a security check-up, make use of that too, to filter out unwanted messages in the future.

Trust no email ever

As spammers are becoming clever at impersonating real people and real companies, it doesn’t hurt to be suspicious of every email you receive, especially if it is from somebody you do not know. Even if the email seems to be from someone you know but seems to be off, get in touch with that person just to double-check.

Be especially suspicious if you get emails from major companies like your bank or utility provider telling you about an update and needing you to verify some of your personal information. Doublecheck URLs too, as most spam senders will try to imitate email addresses of real companies and put a typo here and there to confuse users.

If all else fails, start from scratch

If you’ve done all the tips above and spam messages are still coming through, you might consider getting a fresh start. Junk messages can be quite annoying and if all your efforts are to no avail and the number of spam messages you’re receiving is still getting out of hand, you can always create a new email address which you can then use exclusively for personal or work purposes.

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