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Spam and what you can do about it

Revised on


If you've had an email account for any amount of time, then chances are you've had to deal with unwanted retarded email. Spam is to email what junkmail is to your mailbox at your house.

Rule No. 1
The first rule of any unwanted email is DO NOT REPLY TO IT!!! almost every piece of email that is junk mail will have a message in it that says something to the effect of "click here to be removed from this mailing list" or "send us a reply with REMOVE in the subject line to be removed from this mailing list". Almost always, I'd say 95% of the time, all this does is confirm your valid email address to the sender. This is Gold in the spam world because now they know for a fact a live human is there and it's not a dead email address.

Never contact the spammer under any circumstances.

Almost all of these emails shucking everything from free credit reports to get rich quick schemes offer a opt out link or web address for you to conveniently have yourself removed from their mailing list. DON'T DO IT!!! NEVER NEVER NEVER respond to one of these automated removals. All this does is confirm to them that you are a real user and your email address works. This is GOLD to these guys.

Defend and Fortify, then Attack!

Web based email blocking

Here's what I recommend. If you connect to the internet via Earthlink or AOL don't use their email. Use a web based email system that is independent from the company that you pay for internet service. My favorite right now is MSN or Hotmail. MSN has a pretty good spam blocking function that is right there on your email screen. All you do is check off the junk mail or spam and click 'block' and that's it. You can even block the entire senders company which I prefer.

Another plus to not using the internet providers email is if you get tired of them and start to experience slow or bad service, you won't lose your email. You can flip and flop all over the place picking and choosing whatever service you like without telling everyone in your address book that you are now on another Internet service... 

What I tell my clients to do if you really hate spam is to have two email accounts. If you've already started using your ISPs email (Earthlink, AOL or whatever) and really don't feel like turning it off, then create a new MSN, Hotmail or Yahoo account and start using that for registering for websites, buying online etc. Use this web based email account as your public email address. Use it strictly for buying online, newsletters, posting in forums, or whatever you like but do not use it for work, friends or family. If and when the Spam starts rolling in, use the spam tools provided by that service to clean up the box.

Now for your family friends and work, use your personal email account. Never use this email to register online for anything. Never.

Now, if you've got the guts... read on...

Kick em when their up, Kick when their down...

If you're like me, you like to screw with these guys. I love giving it back to them. My method of attack is this. I setup an email account on then I respond to these guys inquiring about the product or service. I send a honest legitimate request for information... No sooner than my keyboard keys get cold from typing the message, I'll get a response from the ignat company that sent it. As soon as I have a persons name, phone number (hopefully a 800 number) and an email address I unleash a fury of suspecting attacks on these guys. I've done this for hire on a clients request once because the spammer was targeting his daughters email account on AOL. I almost forgot about the 800 number. If you're lucky enough to get a company with an 800 number that's gold. You did know that they pay about 28 cents for every call over 3 seconds didn't you? Just program your computer to redial a number using the phone dialer program on Windows to redial the number over and over. All you have to do is redial for a weekend, Saturday or Sunday will do, and that cost em around $200 - $300 bucks. Some 800 number companies cut off their number if the level gets too high.

Keep in mind that I'm not recommending that anyone break the law here, just get as much information about them as you can as pass it along to the companies I've suggested and report them.




Spam Fighting Resources

SpamCop will help find the sender of a spam and an address to send a complaint to.
Software tools for tracking spam.

UXN Spam Combat
A collection of anti-spam tools and information.

Fighting E-Mail Spammers
Instructions for telling fake e-mail headers from real ones, and how to find the right person to complain to about spam.

How to Interpret Email Headers
Instructions for interpreting e-mail headers.

Reading Email Headers
An in-depth analysis of how e-mail is sent and how to read its headers.

Downloadable software to trace the sender of an e-mail and locate the spammer's real web site.

Adcomplain Home Page
A Perl script to automate spam complaints.

Anti-spam: AOL edition
A page for AOL users to help combat the threat of spam

Stop Spam FAQ
How to find a spammer and how to respond to spam.

Dealing With Junk Email
Instructions for tracing e-mail headers to locate spammers and their ISPs.

The SPAM-L FAQ Tracking Spam
Instructions for reading e-mail headers and complaining to the spammer's ISP.


Online POP Email scanning Service

Cnet Spam report 07.27.01