Spam has become a constant fixture in our online lives. While it’s easy to gloss over spam in your inbox, accidentally clicking a spam link can lead to virus infection and identity theft. Take the fight to the spammers by actively blocking the spam that you receive, as well as preventing future spam. Your inbox will thank you.
Check who it’s from. Spam will almost always come from an unrecognized sender, often with odd email addresses. That doesn’t mean that all unrecognized email is spam. Legitimate newsletters, website administration emails (password resets, authentication requests, etc.), and more may come from addresses you don’t recognize.
Look for links. Only click links from trusted senders. The entire purpose of spam is to get you to click a link. If an email contains a link and you don’t recognize the sender, chances are it is spam. Hover your mouse over any link to see the destination in your browser or email client’s status bar.
Check the spelling. Spam often contains misspellings and oddly-worded sentences. This can include bizarre capitalization and weird punctuation. Many have gibberish at the end of the message.
Read the message. Anything that claims you are a winner for a contest you never entered, offers you access to unclaimed money, or promises free electronics or pills is never legitimate. Any message that asks for your password is never real (all legitimate websites have automated password reset programs). Requests from strangers should always be ignored.
Many email services have a preview window, which will allow you to read an email message without opening it.
Look for attachments. Malware and viruses are often disguised as email attachments. Never download an attachment from a sender that you do not trust or were not expecting.
Don’t give out your email address online. “Robots” (scripts created to scrape websites for addresses) can quickly gather thousands of emails at a time from websites where the email addresses are made public. Also, sometimes humans actually grab e-mails off websites to use them for sign-up offers in order to get free stuff (iPods, Ringtones, Televisions, etc.).
Don’t make your username the same as your email address. Usernames are almost always public, and it’s simply a matter of figuring out the correct service to add at the end. Services such as Yahoo! Chat make this even easier, since chances are everyone using it has a @yahoo.com email address. Avoid using a chatroom that is tied to your email address.
Use disposable email addresses to identify and shake off sources of spam. Have one main account, and then make a separate account for different purposes (one for friends, one for entertainment sites, one for your financial websites, etc.).
In gmail, you can add a “+” button to your email address. For example, you can signup for newsletters like JohnDoe+Newsletters@gmail.com if your email address is JohnDoe@gmail.com
Set all those addresses to forward the mail to your main account so that you do not have to check multiple accounts.
If you start receiving spam through one of your alternates, you can trace it to one of your disposable addresses and simply delete that account.