Keep Your Email Safe and Avoid Spam

Keep Your Email Address Safe and Avoid SpamDespite an increasing number of unsolicited (and in some cases, malicious) email messages flooding the world's online inboxes, email software is getting smarter, enabling you to keep your email address safe and avoid spam.
The spammer's toolbox
One way spammers collect email addresses is by harvesting the information from Web sites. Web spiders (or bots similar to those used by search engines) crawl the Web and download pages known to typically contain email addresses. Pages with "mail:to" and generic "" links are easy targets for email harvesters.
Newsgroups, blogs, and discussion boards are also easy targets. Thousands of email addresses can be extracted from newsfeeds with a simple computer program, and social groups often have Web-based mailing lists that are not password protected. Emails posted by individuals in blogs and forums are also easy to obtain.

Protect and secure your inbox
So how do you fight back? Although it's nearly impossible to stop spam altogether, here are a few things you can do to avoid scams, protect your personal information, and keep your email address safe.
Update your software. Keep your operating system (OS), mail/news client and antivirus software up-to-date. This is the first line of defense to avoid having your computer turned into a "spam-zombie." Also, install and use a firewall, even if your computer is part of a protected network.
Block them. Most mail programs, like Microsoft Outlook* and Mozilla Thunderbird*, have built-in security and filtering features that focus on minimizing the amount of spam you receive. Simply deleting an email will not stop the spammer from sending you more. Filtering tools train the software to block spam before it arrives.
  • In Microsoft Outlook, right-click on the spam message and click Junk Email
  • Choose to add the sender to your blocked list
Mozilla Thunderbird, Yahoo! Mail* and Gmail* also have similar features.
Do not respond to spam. Unless you know with certainty who sent the email, never respond or click on links within the message. Links are used in spam to confirm valid email addresses, gather personal information, or install malware on your computer. Avoid opt-out, unsubscribe, download, update or upgrade links in particular.
If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Scam artists can make their emails look exactly like those from PayPal* or eBay*, for example. Never, ever respond to email requests to validate personal account information. If in doubt, check the security information for the email in your mail client.
  • In Thunderbird, the information is listed in the toolbar under View > Message Security Info
Use disposable email addresses. Never use your primary email address to register on forums, social groups, blogs, chat rooms or mailing lists. For public use, set up one or more "disposable" email addresses through a free provider such as Hotmail*, Yahoo!* or Gmail*. They are easy to set up and can be disabled if you start receiving too much spam. It's also a good idea to use disposable email addresses when making certain purchases or submitting resumes to job sites.
Look for your email address on the Web. Search for your email address through Yahoo! or Google. Enter the complete address such as "" The results will show if your address is posted on any Web sites, newsgroups, blogs or forums. If you do find your address posted, so will the spammers. Log on to any sites that have your email listed and remove or change the address to a disposable one.
Protecting your email address and personal information is an ongoing job. But by consistently implementing safe, preventative practices, you will enjoy a significant reduction in the amount of security threats and unsolicited mail you receive.
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