While some consumers find unsolicited commercial email — also known as “spam” — informative, most of us find it annoying and time consuming. Still others find it expensive: They're among the people who have lost money to spam that contained bogus offers and fraudulent promotions.
Many Internet Service Providers and manufacturers offer filtering software to limit the spam in their users' email inboxes. The best way for computer users to fight spam is to report it using those tools, forward unwanted spam on to the appropriate enforcement authorities, and then hit delete.
Quick Facts: Some email users have lost money to bogus offers that arrived as spam in their in-box. Con artists are very cunning; they know how to make their claims seem legitimate. Some spam messages ask for your business, others invite you to a website with a detailed pitch. Either way, these tips can help you avoid spam scams:
- Protect your personal information. Share credit card or other personal information only when you're buying from a company you know and trust.
- Know who you're dealing with. Don't do business with any company that won't provide its name, street address, and telephone number.
- Take your time. Resist any urge to “act now” despite the offer and the terms. Once you turn over your money, you may never get it back.
- Read the small print. Get all promises in writing and review them carefully before you make a payment or sign a contract.
- Never pay for a “free” gift. Disregard any offer that asks you to pay for a gift or prize. If it's free or a gift, you shouldn't have to pay for it. Free means free. Filter Tips: 10 Scams to Screen from Your Email
- Never unsubscribe or reply Many spam e-mails contain a link to unsubscribe. Usually this is nothing but a way to confirm working e-mail addresses. Clicking this link has been shown to increase spam by more than 85 percent, while replying to the e-mail with a request to unsubscribe has been shown to increase spam by a staggering 192 percent.
If you have not already done so, it is highly recommended that you activate the spam filter for your email solution, whether online or not. Be sure to report spam as it comes in. If your software has a "this is spam" or "report spam" button, USE IT! This reports the message back to a central system that can then use that information to kill more spam from the same source.
If you get spam email that you think is deceptive, forward it to firstname.lastname@example.org. The FTC uses the spam stored in this database to pursue law enforcement actions against people who send deceptive email.
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