What is Spam?
Besides a brand name of spiced ham, and the subject of a very famous Monty Python song and sketch, Spam has another meaning in internet terminology. In our current context of computer safety and privacy, Spam means unsolicited e-mail solicitations. More often than not, spammers are low budget operations who have not invested in legitimate marketing techniques. Spammers' most common solicitations are for pornography web sites, get- rich-quick schemes, "opportunities" to sell a product while working from home, or simply advertisements for a product.
Many spammers will claim in their messages, or in the subject line of the spam e-mail sent to you, that you have requested information from them. Don't believe it.
Others will tell you that all you need to do to get off their e-mail list is to "reply to this message". Don't believe it. If you reply to the message, the spammer will simply be receiving confirmation that your e-mail address is valid. Typically the amount of spam e-mail you will receive will triple after you've confirmed your e-mail address with a big-time spamming operation. Many spammers sell the lists of e-mail addresses they accumulate to other spammers.
The best ways to ensure that you stay out of the spammers' mailing lists are:
One last word of advice about Spam:
- Never reply to a spammer directly
- Always forward a copy of the message you received to firstname.lastname@example.org (If your service provider is AOL, you would send a message to email@example.com, if your service provider is Mindspring, you'd send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- (Optional, but recommended) If you can read the "headers" of the e-mail message you received, send a copy of the message to email@example.com. Even if the service provider listed is not really where the e-mail originated, the service provider named in the e-mail message's header typically won't want to be listed, and won't want to become known as being tolerant of spammers.
- (Optional, but recommended) If the spam message is supposed to lead you to a website, see where the website lives. You can look that up at www.networksolutions.com/whois. You can then write to firstname.lastname@example.org. If the company hosting the website is HostPro.com, you can forward the message to email@example.com, and HostPro will be obliged to look into it. You'll typically receive an automated response within a few minutes of your having sent the message.
- You can use e-mail filters to send known spammers' mail directly to the "Trash" so that you won't have to even see it.
Don't let a spammer intimidate you! If they tell you at the bottom of their message that they are in compliance with the law, and that they are spamming you in accordance with Federal regulations, they must have "ADV: " at the beginning of the subject line of their e-mail messages in order for their disclaimer to be truthful. If the subject line of the spam you receive does not begin with "ADV:", the spammer who says they are in compliance with federal law is lying.
The reason that the "ADV:" is allowed at the beginning of advertisements or solicitations is because it is very easy and safe to filter out any subject line beginning with "ADV:" and to discard it based on the beginning of the subject line.
Feel free to contact us with any questions.