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Learn tips and hints to use a variety of electronic and technical equipment to enhance work with volunteers.

~ September 2007 ~ Topics

Stop That Spam

Stop That Spam

The email in your "in-box" is often filled with unwanted messages. You did not ask for it, but yet it keeps coming. Here are some tips to reduce the spam factor in email.

  1. Protect Your E-mail Address

    The best strategy is to keep spammers from getting your address in the first place. Many spam mailing lists are created by harvesting e-mail addresses from websites where your information may be displayed. Newsgroups, bulletin boards, and chat rooms are examples of places where spammers can collect an e-mail address. Some bulletin boards have safeguards to protect their members, but there is no safety if members post their personal information. In addition, signing up with unknown sources for online contests, mailing lists, and similar occasions where you need to provide an address as part of the registration process may also expose your address to spammers. If you want to keep your mailbox clean, keep your address private.

  2. Create a Spam E-Mail Account

    Keeping spammers away from e-mail is not always possible, especially in a business environment. You can however create what is sometimes referred to as a "throw-away" account. Get a free email address at Hotmail and Yahoo.

    The throwaway account can be used when registering with newsgroups, bulletin boards, sweepstakes, or in any other situation where you're not quite sure your privacy will be protected. Make sure this is an address where you are not expecting any important mail. If spammers invade then just "throw it away" and get a new "throwaway site."

  3. Message Rules in Email Programs (Outlook in Windows; Entourage for MAC, are examples)

    You can create message rules in most programs that collect email. Outlook and Entourage have a drop down menu that allows you to manually filter the delivery of e-mail, and can be created to analyze the sender's name, subject line, and message body before processing. For example, a rule can be created so that any message with a particularly offensive word in the subject line is automatically moved to the Deleted Items folder, or even better, just deleted from the server before the download.

    Another option provided by Outlook and Entourage allows the user to add senders to their “Blocked Senders” list. No rule needs to be created, and in a few clicks, a sender of unsolicited e-mail can be added to your personal blocked senders list. Whenever mail arrives from this sender in the future, it will skip the inbox and go straight to the Deleted Items folder.

  4. Third Party Software

    There are numerous applications available for purchase, or as free downloads, specifically intended to filter spam as it enters your inbox. These programs identify telltale signs of a spam message by analyzing hidden tags in the message, use of text and images in the message, and various other clues available that point to a message being unwanted.
    A few examples of spam filtering software that is available are from these three companies; SPAMfighter, MailWasher, and Cloudmark. Each offers its own twist on the interface and manageability, but they all allow users to take control of the spam in their mailboxes.

  5. Server Based Solutions

    Most major Internet service providers (ISP) now offer a spam filter as part of the package offered to its subscribers. AOL and Earthlink are just two of the big names out there that include a spam filter in with other attractive features like virus protection and pop up blockers. These ISP provide filters which effectively manage spam at the server before delivery, but they are generally not overly customizable on the end user level, and they obviously only protect e-mail accounts provided by the ISP.

Check with your Internet provider, if the tech staff in your organization are not doing this internally, for the ways in which they are helping filter spam.

These tips and more were found on a technology tips Web site, http://www.geeks.com/techtips/.

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