If you have an email account you will receive spam. That's a fact unless you are very, very careful using it.
If you sign up on websites, even respectable ones like big shopping sites, there is a chance that you will eventually receive spam.
If you reply to emails or send out emails chance is that you may end up with regular spam messages in your inbox.
And even if you only communicate with close friends or business partners, your email may end up in spam databases if your contacts share it on social sites or are hacked.
But what can you do if you receive spam? This guide looks at a few possibilities. It will not cover ways to prevent spam in the first place, for that you need to look elsewhere.
A few pointers are temporary email addresses and a secondary email address for untrustworthy sites and communications.
If you do not really need the email address, or have only a few contacts, then you may want to consider ditching the email address that is receiving the spam and creating a new one.
That can be highly problematic because..
Deleting an email address is usually not an option, especially since you cannot guarantee that the new email address will not receive spam as well.
A good solution is to create a secondary email address without deleting the first. Communicate the secondary email address to friends and contacts so that they use this new email address to communicate with you and make sure you only use the email for select contacts and not websites.
There are still chances that your email will land in the email pool of spammers. One example are friends who upload their email address book to social networking sites to find friends easier. Another possibility is a compromised computer of a friend or a hacked server on the Internet.
A secondary email address may help but you could also end up with two email addresses that receive double the amount of spam.
So called antispam software can block spam before it lands in the inbox. This reduces the amount of spam the user has to deal with. False positives can be a problem though, nothing's worse than having to realize that important business emails have landed in the spam folder for the past couple days.
If you make use of antispam software you need to regularly check the spam folders to make sure that no false positives have been placed there.
Select antispam applications offer advanced features. Spamfighter for instance uses language recognition to automatically block emails that are written in select languages (or in all languages except those that are whitelisted by the user).
The goal should be to spend as little time as possible dealing with spam. A solid option to deal with spam is to whitelist senders. Blacklisting has the disadvantage that it is a regular task. Every new wave of email spam needs to be blacklisted.
Whitelisting on the other hand is a task that is done once, and then only when new contacts need to be added to the list. This means less work is involved in maintaining the list.
Some spammers add unsubscribe links to their email messages. Never ever use those links. If you do the spammer knows that the email address is valid. While legit companies will remove you from their list if you opt out, spammers will do the opposite since they have now verified that the email address is actually in use.
It goes without saying that you should not reply to spam emails as well as it has the same result.
Spam is everywhere and users have to cope with it. Most email addresses will be used by spammers eventually and there is little one can do about it. You can limit the exposure but the chance is high that even careful users will end up with spam in their inbox.
Let us know how you cope with spam in the comments.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.