internet/spam.jpgWant to earn a college degree, improve your sex life, or earn more money? Chances are that you have recently received e-mail professing to help you do all of these things…. Spam. Originally just a canned sandwich product, the word spam now also refers to the unsolicited e-mail which most of us think of an electronic junk mail.

Spam is not just aggravating, recent increases in the amount of spam being circulated have made it a serious problem for businesses as well as home users. There are ways to fight spam. Perhaps if everyone followed these suggestions, spam would disappear.

Don’t open spam.

When you see an e-mail that is obviously spam, don’t open it. Just delete it. Some spam contains a hidden return receipt code which notifies the spammer when you open the e-mail. This tells him that he has a live address and will put your e-mail address in line to receive even more spam. (A good firewall will notify you when information is being sent from your computer and will prevent return receipt codes from executing without your knowledge. See the last two paragraphs of this article for more information.)

Don’t click on links.

Even if the product looks great, don’t click on the link in any unsolicited e-mail that is trying to sell you something. Never buy anything offered via spam. Purchasing or even simply clicking on an item just to look at it will tell the spammers that their plan is working. This will keep the spam flowing.

Don’t reply to spam.

If the e-mail has an unsubscribe link, don’t use it. You may think that this will get you off the spam list, but instead it does just the opposite. A response only confirms that accuracy of your e-mail address and will result in more spam being sent to your address.

Don’t give your credit card information to a spammer.

Smart spammers use many ways to get your credit card information. Symantec, a reputable software company, has found that spammers have been sending out e-mail advertising Symantec products at 90% off. The deal looks great. It looks very real. But it is a scam to get your credit card number.

Keep your e-mail address private

Don’t post your primary e-mail address anywhere on the Internet. Don’t use it for chat rooms, instant messaging, Internet bulletin boards, or newsgroups. Instead, set up another e-mail address with your Internet Service Provider, or use a free e-mail service like HotMail to set up an alternative e-mail address. Use this secondary address in public Internet areas. Use your primary e-mail address for friends, relatives, and business associates.

Get software protection.

Investigate whether your Internet Service Provider has a spam-blocking feature. Many have one available for free or for a minimal fee. If your ISP doesn’t have this feature available, and spam is a real problem for you, consider installing a spam-blocking program.

A good firewall will notify you when information is going out of your computer as well as when it is coming in. This will prevent spammers from using the hidden return receipt notification that was mentioned above. The firewall built into Windows XP does not do this, so you will have to install a good firewall from a third party software vendor.

Be a tattletale

Call your Internet Service Provider and find out what structure they have in place for reporting spam. In the US you can also file a complaint with the FTC online.