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The following is for informational purposes only

Email Spam

Email Spam

What is Email Spam?

People use email as a key communication tool for both personal and business reasons. Along with phones and the declining snail mail, email serves as an important channel of communication. Email spam is a type of email communication unsolicited and sent to masses of people, usually for promotional reasons. Sometimes, these emails can involve scams or fraud. This bulk email type has gotten increasingly common, leading to annoyance and overloaded email inboxes. Opting-out can feel like a full-time job, while opting-in is something most do without even recognizing it.

How Can You Reduce Spam Emails?

Understanding Email Spam Origins

Understanding Email Spam Origins

To reduce how much spam email you receive, it is essential to understand how your email ends up on spam lists in the first place. Here are some examples of how companies obtain your email address and the permission to send you spam emails:

  • You are browsing a retail website, and you are asked to sign in or create an account in exchange for a promo discount. These usually have an option to sign in with your social media account, so there is no need to type in the info. The site then receives all information from your profile, including your email.
    • To reduce spam emails, try declining, and continuing to browse. If you really want a promo for purchase, google “coupon code” for the site in question. Some sites have started requiring that you log in – consider if those sites are worth this hassle to you. If they are, make sure to take a moment to unsubscribe from all their promotional spam emails once you begin receiving them.
  • You are at a retail store, and the clerk at the checkout asks for your email or phone number. Often, this question is asked with the implication that this is a normal part of the transaction. Your information then gets added to the store’s marketing lists.
    • To reduce spam emails, remember that there is no requirement for you to provide your contact information to check out. Politely state you would rather not provide it.
  • You make an online restaurant reservation through a reservation app. Before finalizing, there is a checked box that states that you would like to receive promotional offers.
    • To reduce spam emails, start paying attention to any boxes at the bottom of online bookings, and unselect them.
  • You learn about an exciting sweepstakes, and a big prize is offered. You enter it and share your contact info, which the company uses to target you with spam emails.
    • Think carefully about what contests to enter. Most have very slim odds of winning or offer prizes that are designed to be very hard to redeem.

The examples listed above are just some of the ways companies obtain your email address and your permission to send you spam emails. It is important to remember that these companies often sell your information to other companies, which causes you to receive even more email spam.

Unsubscribing

Unsubscribing

Once you are the recipient of spam emails, unsubscribing is a practice that can help you lower the volume of spam you receive. All spam emails have an unsubscribe option. Sometimes, it is at the top of the email, and sometimes at the bottom. It may use the language “unsubscribe” or have more vague terminology, such as “adjust your email preferences.” Click this option and follow the prompts to unsubscribe. Many sites have started to try to steer users to reduce their spam emails or stay on the list in exchange for a promo, so make sure you select the right option to stop all emails. This can be a time-consuming process, and most sites will take anywhere between two days to two weeks to stop sending you spam emails.

Utilizing Your Email Service Settings to Reduce Spam

As the use of spam emailing increases, email platforms are getting savvier with helping users manage the incoming volume.

Spam Filters

Spam Filters

Most email services have spam filtering. This means that while the spam comes through, it gets filtered into a different area, called “spam” or “junk.” You can access this area of your email easily, but it is separated from your main inbox. This can help, but filters are never perfect, and this can result in valid non-spam emails sent to groups, such as event invites, to be filtered. It’s a good idea to scan spam folders weekly to ensure nothing important ended up there.

Legal Rights and Reporting Spam

Businesses that use spam email strategies must comply with the CAN-SPAM Act, which includes specific requirements and restrictions, including:

  • Companies are not allowed to put false or misleading information into the header/subject.
  • The message must be identified as an ad.
  • The message must share the physical location of the business.
  • The message must provide information about how recipients unsubscribe.
  • Opt-out requests must be complied with quickly and without any charges to the recipient.

Customers can report non-complying businesses to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). This can result in the business getting fined, sometimes tens of thousands of dollars.

Additional Paid Services to Combat Spam

Additional Paid Services to Combat Spam

A variety of services exist to help speed up the process of reducing spam email and opting out of spam emails on a broader level than individual unsubscribing steps. Usually, they charge a fee, but some are free. It is important to be careful in granting them access to your inbox – if you must do that, take the time to revoke access once their process is done to protect your privacy.

With some awareness of how spam emails work and some time dedicated to managing the inflow of spam, you can get a better handle on how much spam email you receive.

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