Friday, April 6, 2007

How to Fight Spam, Both Personal and From Your Web Site


I RECEIVE 50,000 - 60,000 EMAILS - EVERY DAY... AND SO CAN YOU.

Gosh, in one day I am asked to enhance my manhood, lose weight, gain muscle, get a college diploma, get out of debt now, log into my PayPal and eBay accounts, which have been compromised. OR one of my favorites, I have already been pre-qualified for a new loan on my home... all they need is my name, address and a few financial details to verify my prequalification.

Despite how it looks, I am not an email junkie. Of those 50,000 - 60,000 daily emails, 99% of it is unsolicited; the trick is receiving the 500 or so desired emails each day, while keeping the rest out of my in-box. Having had my primary domain since 1997, and still using my original email address (foolishly), spiders, spammers and whois harvester software bots have had lots of opportunities to get my email addresses, which they have. Additionally, our company owns hundreds of domains, so I offer a lot of avenues for spammers to send me their information.I went from a sprinkling of spam in 1999, to a drizzle in 2001, to a torrent of Spam in 2004 and 2005. I have become somewhat of an expert on handling unwanted email. Here are some ways you can control your email. If you don't take steps to control who has access to your in-box, you too can receive 50,000+ emails a day.

Practice Safe Email

A couple of simple precautions can dramatically reduce the amount of spam you get. Don't give your email address without protection, you never know where that other email has been.

Just Say No

Many emails come with an opt-out link at the bottom or ask you to reply to have your email removed. NEVER, EVER, NEVER reply to this unless it is from a major corporation you know and trust. If you reply you are confirming to the Spammer that you are a valid email address. Your email address will be sold immediately, because when you reply, your email address is worth even more because you actually read your email.

Disposable Email Addresses For You

When you sign up for a newsletter or a newsgroup, many people use their primary email address, and as a result, over time, that email starts to receive more and more Spam. A way to minimize this is to create a free email address. Yahoo, Hotmail and Google all offer accounts. Your newsletter account could be RodNewsletter@gmail.com while your purchasing email account for Amazon.com or Nordstrom.com could be RodPurchasing@gmail.com.If ever you start to receive to much Spam to an email account, you simply delete RodNewsletter@gmail.com and replace it with RodNewsletter2006@gmail.com, all the while protecting your primary email address.

Disposable Email Addresses For Your Web Site

You can even use disposable email addresses at your web site. In example your "email us" address can be InfoNovember@domain.com or InfoDecember@domain.com or you just make up names and rotate them, like, Annie@, Roger@, Sahil@, Thomas@ or Tiffany@. Just remember to make the temporary name viable and when your staff replies they reply with an address that you will be keeping, like sales@domain.com.

Make Spamming Difficult

If you have to show an email address in a forum or chat room, make it hard for your email to be harvested. You can write your email as RodNewsletter "@" gmail.com or RodNewsletter (at) gmail.com so it involves more work to find the email and then to reassemble it.

Don't Play With Matches

When you sign up for newsletters or purchase something online, frequently there is a box, already checked for you, that asks if you want to receive promotional mailings. Uncheck the box, because if you don't, that becomes the spark to ignite a barrage of emails.

Don't Be A Typhoid Mary

Mary Mallon was cook in the early 1900's. She was a very healthy woman, but she was a carrier of typhoid and caused typhoid outbreaks, unknown to her. She had no idea that she was infected with the disease which caused her work as a cook to infected many people.There can be an online version of "Typhoid Mary" - you. While many people can be "inadvertent carriers", AOL users are the worst... They forward a joke or chain letter and it has hundreds and hundreds of email addresses in the email from each time it was previously forwarded. A Spammer gets a copy of this and everyone on the list is now on a Spammer's list. Don't spread the disease.

When forwarding emails to groups of people, send them via the BCC field; this shields their address from others. Ask others to send emails to you this way, too.If you have to absolutely forward to everyone that picture of a dog with sunglasses wearing a shirt that says, "Dog spelled backwards is God," at least use the blind carbon copy (BCC) feature of your email to share your emails.

Buy Spam-Free

If you do receive something via Spam and you absolutely want it, don't buy it from the Spammer, just go to Amazon or the equivalent and buy it from a legitimate retailer.

Spam Control Via Server

Ask your mail server provider if they have any Spam fighting software on your server. In my case, Pair.com has highly effective filters (light to heavy duty), screening 99% of the email at the server so I don't end up having to download to my computer. Another feature they offer is to automatically insert the phrase **JUNK** in the subject line, before the subject line. You can set up an Outlook or Eudora filter that looks for **JUNK** and puts that in a Junk folder for easy review. If an email get labeled **JUNK** and it really isn't, I easily can go to the server control panel and "whitelist" the email address it came from and tell it not to insert **JUNK** in the subject.

A tip: When reviewing a Junk folder, sort the subject by alphabetical order, you can review just the subject lines, as many times the same subject line is used by several senders, and it speeds the review. Also if you sort by subject you never have to open the email - just look at the topic and delete.

In next month's column we will discuss additional techniques and discuss software solutions to help you control your unsolicited email. Gotta go, my in-box is telling me I just won the Canadian lottery, five times... Wow.

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MortgagePromote.com is a leading Internet marketing web site that provides hundreds of articles & information tips on web site promotion; to help loan officers & mortgage companies increase their online sales. Aries and Farris has been providing nationwide mortgage leads & Internet marketing services since 1998.

For online mortgage leads please visit our mortgage leads page.

Originally published October 2006.

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