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SPAM: a definition PDF Print E-mail
Written by Bernie Vincent   
Monday, 11 September 2006
SPAM is the common term for unsolicited or junk email. Spam is used to describe the method of flooding the Internet with many copies of the same message. In addition to being unwanted and annoying, Spam often includes advertisements for dubious products, get-rich-quick schemes, or 'services' that you do not wish to be told about.
In the USA some states have introduced laws which make it illegal to send a commercial e-mail message that uses a third party's domain name without permission; that contains false or missing routing information; or that contains a false or misleading subject line. These laws can apply to non-US companies sending mail to a recipient in that state.
In reality, it is virtually impossible for you to eliminate Spam completely. However, there are a few steps you can take to reduce the volume.
Avoid replying to the sender
If you receive unsolicited mail and reply by typing REMOVE in the subject line, this is confirming that your e-mail address is valid and being used – the effect will be that you receive more unsolicited mail. The best way to opt out of a mailing list is to pretend you never received the message.
Don't give out your primary e-mail address
Two of the most common sources of addresses being collected are online chat sites and sites offering free products. Create a secondary web-based e-mail address (such as a hotmail account) that you can give when registering for free software or even when ordering from a company online.
(Hotmail can help you avoid getting Spam for the simple reason that spammer's recognise that it might not reach a private mailbox.)
Use MS Outlook to manage junk e-mailers
You can add a name to a junk mail senders list by going to the Inbox (or Deleted Items folder if you have already moved the message there), then single click the message that you want to block. On the Actions menu, click on Junk E-mail, and then click Add to Junk Senders List. Any messages will then be moved to a Junk Mail folder allowing you to delete whenever you wish.
You can automatically delete, move, or colour-code all junk e-mail messages. On the toolbar, click Organise, then click Junk E-mail and select the options you want.
Use the facilities of your ISP
Some of the larger Internet Service Providers, such as BT Openworld, have facilities to automatically detect Spam and remove it to an 'holding' area for a given number of days before deleting it. The benefit of these services is that the ISP will be in a position to build a list of known sources far quicker, therefore more messages will be blocked. Check with your ISP to see if they have these services – which are often free for those with monthly subscription accounts.
Alter your e-mail address when you use Newsgroups
Spammers use software called "address harvesters" to collect email addresses from open newsgroups, chat rooms and bulletin boards. Unless you really need to, don't post your email address correctly - add a character or number so you can still recognise it but others can't.
Review privacy policies
Make sure that you check all the privacy options on web sites where you give your email address. Responsible sites will make the privacy rules very clear, but others may assume the right to share your information unless you opt-out. If you back-track during a process, check whether the permissions form has been reset to permit information sharing.
Do not forward chain messages
Finally, don't become a Spammer yourself. One of the most common areas of frustration for recipients and ultimate embarrassment for senders is to receive hoax messages which warn you of "The worst virus yet…" and encourage you to look for and delete a file on your computer. Chances are that this file will exist and be a valid part of the operating system.
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