Thursday, September 23, 2010

Top Five Ways to Avoid Spam

Overwhelmed with spam? Once your address gets on a Spam email list, it's almost impossible to remove it, but there are some steps that you can take to avoid getting on the lists to begin with.

Spammers get email addresses to send their messages to through a process called email address harvesting. There are steps consumers can take to protect their email address from harvesting programs.

According to the Federal Trade Commission these are the top five steps that you can take to avoid having your email address harvested:

Consider "Masking" Your Email Address
Masking involves putting a word or phrase in your email address so that it will trick a harvesting computer program, but not a person. For example, if your email address is "," you could mask it as "" Be aware that some newsgroup services or message boards will not allow you to mask your email address and some harvesting programs may be able to pick out common masks.

Use a Separate Screen Name for Chatting
If you use chat rooms, use a screen name that is not associated with your email address. Consider using the screen name only for online chat.

Set Up Disposable Addresses
Decide if you want to use two email addresses - one for personal messages and one for posting in public. Consider using a disposable email address service that creates separate email addresses that forwards to your permanent account. If one of the disposable addresses begins to receive spam, you can shut it off without affecting your permanent address.

Use Two Email Accounts
If you work for a business or organization that wants to receive email from the public, consider creating separate accounts or disposable email addresses for that purpose, rather than having an employee's address posted in public.

Use a Unique Email Address, Containing Both Letters and Numbers
Your choice of email address may affect the amount of spam you receive because some spammers use "dictionary attacks" to email many possible name combinations at large ISPs or email services, hoping to find a valid address.