SPAM is here to stay so knowing how to spot it and what to do with it are self–protection skills everyone who has an email account seriously needs. Of course, there are free SPAM filters, SPAM blockers that can be purchased for $19.95 or $29.95 or more if you have lots of extra cash, or SPAM detectives that will stop SPAM, block pop–up ads, and probably protect you from cyber monsters. All of these products are potentially useful and may even work. While you are deciding which protection you will buy, here are a few tips I have discovered that don’t cost anything and work pretty well for me, at least so far.
1. Your email client likely lets you send an auto reply to anyone who sends you an email. Make a message that says, “I am not replying to email today. If your message is important, give me a call or send me a letter. You know, one of those documents you put in an envelope and drop in the mail after you put a stamp on it. I know it has been a long time but give it a try, how to do it will all come back to you if you concentrate.”
2. Check your in–box and press the delete key on each new message that arrives. That will get rid of all of the SPAM and you can give all of your attention to sending emails to everyone you know. If anyone asks you why you didn’t reply to their email, you can tell them you always delete email so you aren’t bothered with SPAM. If you don’t want to do that and aren’t bothered by a little white lie, tell them your email crashed and you lost their message. The good part here is it is sort of true. You don’t need to tell them you crashed it with the delete key.
3. Delete the email if it isn’t from a person or company you have heard of. Sure, it may be someone you don’t know or a company you may want to know is sending you an important email but it’s not likely unless you have a business that does business by email. Be especially cautious about emails from people who only have first names. Even your friends likely put their first name or initial and last name in the TO line of their emails and any reputable business will include its full name.
4. Here’s my favorite. Check out the subject of the email. If you don’t know what in the world it means, delete it. If it is in a language you can’t speak, delete it. If it is a greeting, delete it, e.g. “Hi.” If it has odd characters in it, delete it. If you can’t pronounce it or would never say that yourself, delete it. If it mentions personal body areas or cures or enhancements for personal body areas, delete it, unless you have a serious need for a cure or enhancement and have discussed it with your doctor and have been advised to find a cure or enhancement by reading SPAM.
5. OK, you have followed tips 1–4 and absolutely can’t resist opening that email you just got. Look at the first couple of lines and see what you see. If there are graphics, odd characters, or anything other than simple text that gets down to the reason for the email, delete it. If there are links to click on, delete it. If you can’t tell what the point is in a paragraph or so, delete it. Unless you are sure it is good stuff and you really want to know, delete it.
6. If the email has an attachment, don’t open it. If you simply have to open it, don’t click on the attachment. If the email starts doing stuff without your doing anything, delete it and if you can’t delete it, turn off your computer. Can you ever open an attachment? Well, maybe, if the email is from your mother or your best friend or your boss and they sent it to you and did not forward it from someone else. If you are asked later what you thought about the attachment, it’s time for one of those little white lies, “I couldn’t get it to open.” Well, it is again sort of true. You don’t need to mention that it wouldn’t open because you deleted their email and the attachment went to cyber heaven with the email.
7. What should you do if you decided to ignore tips 1–6? Go to the help section of your virus software to see what it has to say about ignoring tips 1–6. If that doesn’t work, maybe you can quickly develop a close personal relationship with a computer guru.