Identifying email as spam is actually pretty easy. If there is an email in your inbox from an address you don't recognize, nine times out of ten, it's spam. Spammers often have very unusual email addresses, like . These nonsensical email addresses are the result of automated computer programs that sign up for hundreds of email addresses at a time for use in spamming operations. The subject lines in spam emails can range from strings of unrelated words to very apt phrases that bear resemblance to an email search you've recently conducted. While the former is simply annoying, the latter can be a clue that you have spyware in your computer that needs to be removed. If this happens to you, consult your local computer service business for help in getting rid of it.
One particularly vicious type of spam is called phishing email. These emails are designed by dishonest people to look like legitimate communications from email providers, banks, and other establishments with whom you do business. These emails invariably contain a link that will take you to a fake website so you can log into your 'account'. As soon as you log in and use your real user name and password, the spammer has your account information and can use it to take over your online accounts and even get their hands on your money. If you get an email from an establishment where you have an account, it is always best to check with the establishment in person or by phone- not by replying to the email. If you do receive a phishing email, contact the establishment of your email account immediately and let them know so that they can warn other account holders.
Another type of spam is known as the scam email, and you've probably gotten at least one of them. Some people get three or more a day. These emails are from people in foreign countries who say they are trying to get rid of money- usually a bogus inheritance. These are basically foreign money laundering operations, and Americans who have fallen for these scams have ended up losing large amounts of money, being lured to foreign countries to complete the 'transaction'- and a few never even made it home. If you receive one of these emails, you can forward it to the Federal Trade Commission and they will investigate the matter.
What may surprise you is that most of the email spam you receive is governed by the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003. The law is rarely enforced, it prohibits the buying and selling of bulk email addresses (although this still goes on every day), and one clause actually helps spammers verify your email address. The CAN-SPAM Act states that marketing emails must include an opt-out link where you can go to request to be removed from the company's emailing list. But clicking on this unsubscribe link simply confirms that your email address is active and almost guarantees that your email address will be included in the next email address list the company sells.
While spam is certainly a nuisance, there is precious little you can do about it. When you get spam, most email providers have a button you can click to mark the email as spam, and then it will be delivered to your bulk or spam folder instead of your inbox. Some email providers allow you to block unwanted emails altogether so that you don't even have to deal with them in the spam folder. The third option is, of course, to simply delete the unwanted email and chalk it up as one of those annoyances that comes with advancing technology- a matter of taking the bad along with the good.
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