My first job, first apartment right after graduating from college. Nobody knew who I was or where I was. My phone bill was less than $10 a month. I just did not exist yet. Getting mail was an exciting experience. Even a bill. A few years later and I was getting junk mail like crazy. So much so that I was throwing away a lot of catalogs, credit card offers and ads every few days. I learned a little trick. I would write the word “refused” on the unopened envelopes and drop them back in the mail. It stopped the junk mail because they had to pay for return postage.
In the 1990’s, I had an AOL account (who didn’t?) Suddenly, it was an exciting moment when the little voice said “you have mail!” Slowly, email caught on and someone figured out that it was the cheapest way (free) to send ads, hoaxes, and viruses. Now, it is said that 97% of all email sent is spam. By the way, a few years ago, the Hormel meat company’s website made it very clear that spam (all lower case) is unwanted email and SPAM (all upper case) is thief registered trademark. Anyway, spam email has become a major problem.
I was working for a client a few years back when one of the staff members approached us (the IT folks) very upset because he had suddenly gotten 15 or 20 spam emails in his inbox. What had happened to the junk mail filter on the server? We showed him that the server had blocked a couple of thousand spam messages. It was working, it’s just not perfect.
That being said, I have always wondered, what is all the fuss? First of all, some spam is, in essence, the user’s fault, in that, when you sign up for free stuff, your email is sometimes sold to spammers. That’s why it is free. When you get email that you never subscribed to and you click the unsubscribe link, sometimes you are just confirming to the spammer that your email is legitimate, making it a more valuable commodity.
My email is usually pretty spam free. Why? Yes I do sign up for free stuff, but I got another email address specifically to use to sign up for stuff. I once signed up for a questionable free service using my spam email account, and it started filling up with junk within minutes. When people would complain about getting spam, I would ask, “what’s the big deal? Just delete it!.” But this is never an acceptable answer. Folks really get upset when they have to delete a lot of spam. When they have to select 10 or 20 files and click a “delete” button. That is so annoying.
Really? In the past couple of weeks, for whatever reason, I have been hit by spammers. 10, 20, 25 junk messages in two different accounts. The come back everyday, I can recognize the subject lines and just select them all, right-click and delete. On my phone or tablet I check off each one and tap “delete.” On my PC, I click the first one, hold down the SHIFT key and click the last one, then “delete.” Or, if the spam is mixed in with desirable email, I hold down the CTRL key and select the culprits, then delete. I think it takes at most 20 seconds. And it is not the first time it has happened. Seems I had a similar experience several months ago.
So what what do I do about the spam? We’ll there is little you can do. Remember, for every 5 or 10 spam I get, a thousand or more have been blocked at the server. What I do is—delete it. Everyday. Every time I see it. Annoying? Maybe a tad, but it takes 20 seconds if I do it every day. And guess what? Eventually it goes away. Perhaps my email loses it value to spammers if I never respond, I don’t know. But it eventually goes away. In fact, the 20-25 spam emails I was getting a couple of weeks ago seems to be down to about half that now. In another week or two my email will be pretty clean again. Until the next spam incident.
Spam is a part of life if you use email. Yes, a good spam filter can keep your inbox clean, but nothing is perfect. In fact, spammers are constantly working to figure out how to get past the filters. So my advice if you suddenly find a lot of spam in your inbox—just delete it.