Thursday, September 4, 2014


Spam is the bane of our collective existence in this digital world. We all get it. We all hate it. There are some things you can do to mitigate and even eliminate spam so let’s get started, shall we?

I have been able to retain my sanity (debatable, I know) using Google’s Gmail. Whether you use corporate email or a free email from Yahoo, AOL, or AT&T, you can configure Gmail to check and filter those accounts for you. Gmail has a world class spam filter that is nearly 100% effective. The details of how to configure Gmail are a bit tedious to describe here but it starts with creating a free Gmail account then following some basic instructions. Other free email services offer comparable features such as Microsoft’s, Yahoo, and Apple’s iCloud but Gmail is the best.

Some “spam” is not really spam. It is stuff you subscribed to one way or another. For example, when you buy something from Amazon, they will ask permission to send you stuff you may be interested in. You can opt out of that any time simply by looking for the “unsubscribe” link at the bottom of the email. You should be in the habit of regularly
unsubscribing from services you are no longer interested in. However, be careful about unsubscribing. Sometimes nefarious people will send you unsolicited spam and include a
“unsubscribe” link. If you click that, you just verified to the scammer that you are a real live person and eventually flood your inbox. As long as you are unsubscribing from legitimate companies like Amazon, eBay, AT&T and so on, you should be ok.

Going forward, one handy way of keeping your inbox clean is a tool that is included with a free program called Lastpass ( Lastpass is a wonderful browser utility that remembers your login details and passwords for websites but Lastpass also includes a “mask my email address” tool. When you visit a site that wants an email address, LastPass will prod you to “mask” your email address. If you choose to do so, LastPass will generate a garbled email address that is sent to the sender. LastPass will then act as a mediator between you and the sender. You will still receive the email from the sender but the sender never actually has your real address. LastPass makes it super easy to simply block the sender when you’ve had enough.

If you are using standalone email programs such as Outlook, LiveMail, Outlook Express or the Mail program on a Macintosh, your options for despamification are limited to costly software based services or hardware “appliances.” But if you use one of the “free” web-based services, they all have a “report spam” feature. Get in the habit of using that. Each time you use it, the filter gets to know you a little better and becomes more skilled at filtering junk.

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