By Anoop Verma
All of us are fed up of spam. Those who use their mobile phones to access emails have come to dread spam; these unwanted emails lead to unnecessary data consumption that naturally translates into higher telephone bills. Perhaps the best way of having a spam free inbox is to avoid getting into the spammers mailing list. As that is an impossible objective to achieve, we are forced to rely on tactics like spam filters, disposable addresses and obfuscation to deal with the menace.
Here is a list of strategies that you can implement to safeguard the privacy of your inbox:
Keep your email private
You must ensure that your email ID does not get widely circulated. This means that you should avoid giving your email ID at all kinds of websites, some of which are notorious for leaking users data to vested interests. Spammers also develop their mailing lists by harvesting emails from newsgroups, blogs, chat rooms, bulletin boards, etc. You should avoid logging on to public sites with your real email. Perhaps you can have a second email ID for logging into public websites.
A ‘dot’ can make a difference
Gmail has a spam filtering system in place, but it is not good enough to keep each and every spam mail at bay. We can use some tricks to confuse the spammers. When logging on to public websites, you can incorporate a “dot” in your email ID. For example, if your email ID is [email protected], then you can try logging in with [email protected]. Gmail does not recognise a dot, so you can use any number of dots and the email will still get delivered. By using a dot, you set up a filter within in your account. This filter will send any email with dots in it directly to the spam folder.
Those who are using Outlook or Outlook express can take their war against spam to the next level. Go to the “Tools” drop down menu, and create a new rule stating that any email containing a particular ‘word’ in the subject line should be automatically moved to the Deleted Items folder. Obviously the word has to be the one that is usually there in the spam messages you receive. You can also put the email addresses from which you frequently receive spam messages into the blocked list.
Look out for checkboxes
While singing up for something new on the web, you often come across some innocent-looking text at the end of the form that says something like this, “Yes, I want to be contacted by select third parties concerning products I might be interested in.” On many occasions this checkbox is already checked. If that is the case, then be sure to uncheck it. If you let the checkbox remain checked, then nothing can stop your email from becoming part of the international spammer directory.
Create a complicated email ID
Along with collecting email IDs posted on the net, Spammers also use the technique of guessing new email IDs. Once the domain name is known, the automated spamware will send mails to all kinds of likely user names at that address. Even if you have never posted your email ID on the net, you are likely to find spam messages in your inbox if your ID is made out of a common first name or last name. So you should create a long email ID, preferably you should go for one that has a mixture of words, numbers and an underscore. Of course, the email ID cannot be too hard, as then it will become difficult for your friends to remember it.
Don’t give business to spammers
Why is the business of spam thriving? It is because spam is relatively cheaper to send and there are reasonable returns from the exercise. You can send millions of mails around the world at very small cost, and even if a small fraction of the recipients choose to buy, the spammer makes a profit. So the best way of killing spam is to stop buying through the unwanted mails that you get. You should even stop visiting their websites. Since the spammers are in it for money, once they stop making profit, they will be forced to shut their shop.