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2. What Can I Do About Spam?
There are things you can do to combat spam.
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You can forward spam to your ISP's abuse department, which works with other ISPs to locate and shut down spammers. You may also forward spam to the Federal Trade Commission at uce@ftc.gov. The next page of this article tells how to forward spam.

The FTC wants to hear from people who have opted out of mailings and still get them. They also want to hear about scams.

Spammers are very clever and a few words of caution are in order when dealing with them. If they can get you to validate your e-mail address then it becomes infinitely more valuable to them. In addition to sending you more spam they can sell your name to other spammers.

  • Do not attempt to "opt out" of a spam mailing and do not write the spammer. You will probably reach an "auto responder" that dutifully records your e-mail address.
  • Do not forward spam to an ISP you don't recognize. If in doubt, visit the domain to see if it is really a mail service or an ISP. Legitimate e-mail services will appreciate hearing from you. If the domain is something like "Best Values" or "Special Offers" then do not send them anything!
  • Never reply to an e-mail address that uses an IP address instead of a domain name. If you "mouse over" the link to the address and see an address with a string of numbers such as StopTheMail@123.45.67.123 this is an IP address.
  • Never click on an "opt out" link without "mousing over" it to see where it will take you. If it is an IP address you shouldn't go there. If it is an unknown domain name don't go there unless you have a firewall on your computer. Spammers can collect all kinds of useful information when you visit their Website.

It cannot be repeated too many times: Never "opt out" of a spam mailing. You only tell the sender that your address is valid. They may indeed pull your address from the mailing list, only to add it to a few dozen more.

If you have subscribed to the mailing list of a company with which you have a relationship it is safe to submit an opt-out request. Note that some spammers state in their e-mail that you have "opted in" to their mailings when, in fact, you have not. Sending an opt-out request to them could be a problem for you.

  • One spammer assured us that we had "opted in" to receive their mailings, the first of which we had just received. The e-mail address they used had been dormant for years. This spammer was lying.

While you can't stop the transmission of spam to your mail server you can prevent it from reaching you.

  • If you are using a commercial Web mail system such as Yahoo or MSN there are spam filtering options you can use. Check with the company's FAQs or other help.
  • If you have your own domain you can usually set up filtering rules for e-mail. We have blocked anything with key words such as "viagra" and "cable de-scrambler" and that has reduced the number of spams considerably.
  • You can use a third-party service for filtering e-mail. There are several such services available..
  • Spam filtering software is available from a number of sources but please don't buy it from an offer you received via spam; you will only encourage the spammer! Try the product before you pay for it. Some products work better than others and not everyone's needs are the same. Many of them have a trial license, i.e., 30 days.

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