It is interesting to know that the opposite of spam is ham in the email world. And we all feel the same way about spam, we hate it. To bad for the manufacturers of Spam in a can.
So is there a way to eliminate spam all together and have that burnished inbox you always wanted? Well here's some honest truths.
- You can never 100% avoid receiving spam emails. Never.
- There is nothing to stop spammers from attempting to send email FROM YOU!
- You want to completely avoid spam, delete your inbox.
Now while that paints a bleak picture, there are things you can do to reduce your spam intake. Here are my top tips to reducing spam coming into your inbox.
1. Don't download pictures automatically
Your email program (Outlook, Thunderbird etc) may be downloading images in emails automatically upon opening. This is great if you want to get that email newsletter you love looking at first time you open it, but images in emails are also used to track email opens, your IP address, your computer type and your location. This is typically okay when used properly, email marketing giants like Mailchimp use this method with success, but unscrupulous email marketers use this information to test if the emails were opened or not, validating your email address as active thus receiving more spam. Web based email like Gmail will proxy the images on your behalf, which protect your identity, but can validate the email address to spammers, however Gmail has pretty accurate spam filtration in place already.
Set your email program to block images by default and selectively click the Download Images button only on emails you trust, and assume each time you do that the sender has tracked that event.
2. Use SPF (Sender Protection Framework)
Having an SPF rule in your DNS can tell other mail servers what IP addresses or host names your actual (legitimate) emails are coming from. This can help other email spam filters determine if the messages that they receive that come from you are potential spam or actually from you.
Your email and domain host can help you setup SPF rules based on your setup.
3. Don't reply, just delete it
If you are unsure, delete it. I have seen in my years, a lot of business owners reply to spam emails asking to clarify or confirm if the email they received is legit. This is a mistake, don't get caught out, it's always safer to delete or if you're still unsure ask your tech person for their opinion.
4. Don't ask to be spammed
Treat your email address as privately as you would your home address. Don't give it out to any website that you're not convinced is being honest. You wouldn't give your home address to a stranger on the street would you? Most IT people have a throw away email address they use for signing up to websites, sign up for a GMail or Hotmail address that you can use as a junk email address and when you're unsure about a website use that address instead of your normal address.
5. Look for "Sign Me Up To Newsletter/Marketing" checkboxes on website signup or contact forms, uncheck it.
Nice website owners will ask your permission to send you newsletters, in fact in Australia - and much of the world, it's the law to ask permission rather than hide and assume consent in terms and conditions. If you're offered the choice, say no.
6. Don't click links in suspicious looking emails
Similarly to tracking images, links can be used to track your personal information as well as validate your email address to spammers. It's also not hard to hide the true destination of a link, for example, it may say www.your-real-bank-address.com but when you click it you go to www.fake-bank-steals-identity-and-money.com and opens you up to receiving more spam, or worse, have your personal information or bank account details stolen.
Just use common sense. If you walk the streets at night, you're naturally cautious of every darkened figure walking your way, so should you treat unknown emails.
It may seem untrusting, but it'll give you the best chance to protect your inbox and your identity.