If you don’t respect your online identity, nobody else will and before long your in-box will rot and fall off. At least that’s what our mother told us. She also told us to eat our vegetables that we’d go blind if we forwarded email to ourselves.
We usually take what Mom says with a grain of salt.
However, it is true that if you start with a clean (as in “never been used”) address you can keep your in-box mostly spam free for a long time using basic email address hygiene.
Disclaimer: The tips that follow do not help to avoid dictionary campaigns which is why we say mostly spam free. Choosing a longer and/or more obscure address can help with this and an occasional spam from a dictionary campaign is not a big problem as long as you don’t open it, don’t reply and delete it right away.
Prevent Email Spam
The best way to prevent email spam is to keep your email address out of the hands of spammers. In order to do this you have to take precautions to ensure both safe web surfing and safe emailing. We’re sure your mother already warned you about the ways of the Internet too, but in case she didn’t, this is probably what she would say.
1. Be Modest With Your Email Address
You may think it’s cool to bare your email address in public but it can only lead to trouble. The web is crawling with address collectors (also known as harvesters) that just want to get into your in-box. Given the chance they will grab your address and have their way with it.
Cover your email address in public by using obfuscation. Instead of showing off your entire address at social networking sites just hint at it like this:
- myaddress AT mydomain DOT com
Anybody that’s worth knowing will understand and you won’t get anywhere near as much attention from undesirables.
If you have a web site of your own you should avoid exposing links to your email address. It is possible to have address links on your site but you have to be careful to hide them from address collectors using a tool like the OnlyMyEmail Encoder.
2. Giving It Away Is Asking For Spam
Promiscuity is dangerous. Everybody wants your email address and most of them have bad intentions. This includes banks, grocery stores, magazines, warranty cards, job applications and especially web sites. They may seem nice but you never know if they’ll spam you or who they’re going to sell the information to.
If you must give an email address to a web site of questionable repute you need protection. Use a disposable email address and cast it aside like a used condom when you’re done.
3. Practice Safe Surfing
Make sure you have up to date anti-virus software with you at all times. You never know when you might need protection. The Internet is full of nasty viruses and malware and current AV software is your best defense against STDs (Sneaky Trojan Downloads).
Lack of money is no excuse. Many anti-virus clinics will provide you with free prophylactic software. Here are a couple of our favorites:
Remember, safe surfing not only protects you, it protects your friends. One virus can infect everyone in your address book. Using prophylactic software also protects you from your friends. Do you really know how careful they are?
4. Be Discrete About Your Partners
If you do engage in email intercourse, don’t let the whole world know who you’ve been emailing with. Learn to use Blind Carbon Copy (Bcc) to make sure you don’t give away your friends’ addresses and encourage your friends to do the same for you.
Do you really want everyone you email with to know about everyone else you email with? Think of your reputation! You’ll feel better knowing that by using Bcc you’re maintaining your privacy and keeping your affairs to yourself.
5. Avoid Strangers With Cheap Pills
Strangers will try to get you to their web sites by enticing you with cheap ED pills, easy diets, cheap watches and porn. Once they get you there they’ll abuse your privacy at best and probably steal your money and infect you with STDs.
It’s much better to ignore offers from strangers entirely and not give them the chance to trick you. Never reply to spam emails and if you can, delete them without opening them. If you do open them, never click on the links inside.
Your Email Address Is Precious
If you value your privacy you will heed the advice above. Take good care of your address and you will be able to enjoy it for a long time. On the other hand, if you lose your innocence you will never be able to get it back. Your address will become jaded and used; passed from spammer to spammer like a worn out penny. Just another victim of spam.
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