Stopping Spam from Hitting Your Inbox
Spam emails: they range from mild irritation to serious security threat. Waking up to 25 emails from retailers every day is annoying (and fixable), but getting phished or scammed by way of spam email is a serious (and seriously prevalent) problem. You’ll never stop all spam, but you can take steps to greatly reduce the amount of spam you see on a daily basis. Today’s tips fall into two categories: hiding the spam you get and going on the offensive.
Method 1: Just Hide It
The first method for stopping spam is more about hiding it than stopping it, but that’s just as good. Spam that you never see can neither annoy nor compromise you. Below are three methods you can use to banish spam to a spam folder.
Note that with any of these methods, it’s possible for a legitimate message to get sent to the spam folder inadvertently. Check your spam folder regularly, but view anything in there with caution.
Make Sure Your Spam Filter Is Enabled
Most of the major email providers offer some sort of spam filter, and most are toggled on by default. Take a look in your email settings to be sure that your spam filter is enabled. If not, turn it on.
If your business is hosting its own email, you may be on your own for building or implementing a spam filter. (This is one of many reasons we don’t recommend hosting your own email, by the way.) If this is you and you’re having problems, contact your IT department.
Use Rules and Filters
If you don’t have a spam filter or it’s not aggressive enough, you can use rules or filters to help it. Look in your email settings for rules, filters, or a similar term. Create rules that send messages containing NSFW language straight to the trash. You can do the same with terms popular in spam messages that never occur in your industry, such as “refinance”, “immediate action required”, or “hot singles near you”.
Add to your rules over time, too. When a spam message gets through, think about what kind of rule could have blocked it (without blocking other legitimate content) and then add that new rule.
It’s OK to Block Frequent Offenders
Most email services also allow you to block specific users. Blocking that pushy salesperson that won’t leave you alone is a great call. True spammers don’t tend to reuse email addresses these days, though, so don’t waste your time blocking those addresses.
Method 2: Go on the Offensive
Hiding spam is a start, but here are a couple more drastic steps you can take.
Become a Reporter
Most email services provide a way to report that a message is spam. Some users think that deleting spam is good enough, but reporting it is better. The spam filters in large services like Gmail aren’t static. They learn from users. Every message you report as spam (look for a stop sign with an exclamation point in Gmail’s current design) helps Gmail better identify spam, reducing the amount you and others see.
Create a Burner Account
Our last method for eliminating spam is creating a burner email account. Every time you use your email address to sign up somewhere or create an account on a website, you invite marketing emails from that website or company. Less scrupulous companies may even sell your address to true spammers. Cut off both legitimate spam (marketing emails) and true spam at the source by using a burner email address (like firstname.lastname@example.org) for all your online sign-ups.
Following these methods should reduce your spam load significantly. If your email hosting service isn’t getting the job done.