Six Ways to Protect Your Email Address from Spam

email-spamEmail spam may be a common problem, but that doesn’t mean you have to put up with it. Outsmarting spammers isn’t hard; you just need to watch what you do with your email address and who you share it with. Here are suggestions that may help shield your account from junk messages.

DISCLAIMER: Please keep in mind that these suggestions are for information purposes only. The author/publisher assumes no responsibility for what you may do with it. You alone are responsible for managing and keeping your email account secure. Also, please remember that anti-spam measures are not perfect; there is no absolute guarantee that a valid email address will never receive unsolicited mail.

If you need more help fighting spam, please refer to your email service provider or your email software technical support for help.

1) Use filtering and reporting tools.

If you are already getting spam, use screening tools to send it away. A web-based email service like Gmail or Yahoo should have a “Spam” button above the list of messages. When you select a message and click that button, it will be marked as junk mail. You can also use filters or rules to automatically delete messages that meet your criteria. For example, you can specify that all messages with the title “Canadian pharmacy” be sent directly to the trash.

To create a new filter in either Gmail or Yahoo, find the gear icon while logged in to your account, click Settings and then click Filters.

If you use email software like Outlook or Thunderbird, please consult that program’s user guide. Each program or app has its own anti-spam and filtering tools.

2) Create disposable email addresses.

A disposable email address is an alias or alternate email address you can use in place of your “real” email address. Disposable addresses can help fight spam, protect your privacy and anonymity, and manage your emails. The two major web email providers – Gmail and Yahoo – both offer alternate address capabilities.

With Gmail, you simply add a + sign to your Gmail login name, so the disposable address will look something like this: mygmail+disposable@gmail.com. This might not work for long because spammers will soon figure out that the phrase before the + sign is the actual address.

See also this page: support.google.com/mail/answer/12096?hl=en

Yahoo lets you create a totally unique disposable address. First, you choose a “base name.” The base name can be different from your real Yahoo login name, but it has to be unregistered by any other user. When you’ve chosen a base name, you choose a second name for each disposable address. The base name and secondary name are separated by a hyphen or – sign. An example would be: mybasename-vendor123@yahoo.com.

See also: help.yahoo.com/kb/mail/SLN3523.html

With disposable email addresses, you won’t be forced to share your main email address with online marketers, vendors, apps or anyone else who might exploit that information. And if you do get spammed through a disposable address or alias, you can delete that address or filter the junk it receives. Check with your email service provider or program to see what disposable address features they offer. If you use a free email service, there may be limits to the number of disposables or aliases you can create at any given time.

3) Use multiple email addresses.

It is difficult to avoid spam if you use only one address for all your emails. If spammers get hold of that address, you’re stuck with it. You wouldn’t be able to dispose of that address since you use it for everything else. Further, if that email account is compromised, all your mails and all online accounts linked with it could be at risk. That’s why it’s a good idea to have more than one email account.

Of course, you don’t want to have more email addresses than you can manage. But you’ll probably want at least three accounts: one for personal use with trusted people (family, close friends), one for work, and another for less important matters. It is up to you how elaborate you want your email “scheme” to be. Just make sure you can stay on top of all the accounts you create!

4) Do not use your primary email address to sign up for products, services or news.

Online vendors and marketers like to offer goods and services to their visitors in exchange for valid email addresses. Then they may add you to their mailing lists, hoping that staying connected with you will translate to sales or some other profit for them. Worse, unscrupulous sites could sell your email address (and other information you give them) to spammers. So don’t share your primary email address with that website that’s promising you a “free ebook,” an “exclusive download” or a “special report.” Use a disposable email address or open a new email account instead. Most importantly, leave a website if you have the slightest doubt about it.

5) Do not publish your email address online.

There’s no more obvious place to hunt for email addresses than the Web itself. If you have a blog or website, don’t post your personal email address there. Provide a contact form for your site visitors and blog followers. Make sure that the form has an anti-spam feature. If you participate in forums or social media sites, ask others to use private messaging or other means to get in touch with you. If it is necessary to publish your email address on a public page, use a secondary one that you can dispose of if you need to.

6) Ask others to keep your email address private.

Anti-spam tactics would be useless if someone else were to give away your address. Tell your family and friends that you want to keep your email address private. Ask them to seek permission from you before they add you to group mails, send you electronic greeting cards, etc. If you fear that might make you too unpopular, create a disposable address just for them.

Finally, be considerate with other people’s email too. Think twice before you do anything that could expose someone else’s email address. Just because email isn’t very expensive,  that doesn’t lessen its value of it.