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Flooded Inbox? What You Can Do About Spam 
 
by Mark Jessen July 12, 2005

Email may be a quick and easy way to communicate, but it has also become an avenue for pesky and unwanted messages. That's right, the dreaded spam. But what can you do about spam? Quite a bit.

Walks to the mailbox can often be marred by pulling out piles of unwanted mail. Letters from credit card companies and other envelopes carrying offers that can’t be refused seem to proliferate in the dark shadows of your mailbox. Fortunately, your ire against such junk mail can be easily resolved as you rip the letters to pieces or feed them to your paper shredder. Ah, the therapeutic benefits.

But where are those benefits when it comes to the electronic world? Everyday, you open your email inbox to discover a plethora of unwanted messages offering everything under the sun, from Viagra to Antivirus software and beyond. Unfortunately, the click of a button does little to relieve the agitation of receiving such mass emailings. What adds to the frustration is that we often receive the very same offer multiple times, filling up our inboxes, confiscating memory space, occupying bandwidth time, and wasting our time as we try—often vainly—to get the messages to stop.

So what can be done to stop the ever insidious spam?

What Is Spam?

There’s a difference between legitimate email and spam. At the core of the difference is this: one you want to receive, the other you don’t. When fighting the spam battle, this distinction is very important.

Chances are that some of the messages that clutter your inbox are messages you opted to receive—even if you don’t remember saying that you wanted them. Many legitimate businesses offer to send you promotions and updates when you register on their web sites. Such messages should not be reported as spam—you did, after all, ask for them to be sent to you. In such cases, legitimate businesses will have an opt-out procedure that will terminate the messages. These messages are also easily identified. The sender will be a familiar name, on that you recognize.

It’s the messages that come from senders that you don’t recognize that are the problem. These are the emails that you did not ask to receive; the ones that you would like to get rid of, but cannot.

Unfortunately, spam is a reality of online life. With the growth of technology and the spread of information, spamming is incredibly easy to perpetrate. Your email address can be gleaned from any number of sources, and can even be produced at random by some programs. No matter what you do, you will receive some spam. But there are things you can do to cut back on the amount that you are receiving.

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