The fact that email is so accessible, free and fast, makes it a very convenient tool for us. It also makes it a very convenient tool to use to spam your inbox. Buy simply purchasing a list of email addresses, professional spammers can bombard their victims with as many messages as they please. We have our ways of preventing these attacks but, of course, they have a host of automated tools to help them expand their volume and slip past filters. They are sneaky but there are things that you can do to proactively keep spam out of your inbox for good.
Here are five strategies for blocking spam:
1. Train your spam filter
Most email platforms include some form of spam detection. Messages that seem fraudulent or unimportant will be red-flagged by your provider and sent to the spam folder. The best thing about these filters is that you can train them to fit your inbox. This means that with the click of a button, you can decide if the spam detector made a mistake or missed a spam email. You can configure its settings and actions to improve its performance.
For example, let’s take a look at Gmail. Every time you open an email, a Report Spam button that looks like an exclamation point appears at the top of the email. If you find a message that is obviously spam that slipped through the spam filters, click this red button and your spam will filter messages like this to its memory bank so that you no longer get them. On the other hand, if you check your Spam folder and find that a useful email was placed there, open it and click the not spam button at the top of the page.
2. Employ alternative email addresses
One way to avoid spam is to create an alternative email address that is separate from your personal or business email address. When we order a product, often times the company that we ordered it from takes the liberty of spamming our inboxes with irrelevant content that has nothing to do with our purchase. This can also include receiving unwanted marketing updates or sharing your contact information with an advertiser. By creating a secondary email address you can keep all spam from entering your important inbox of your main email address. This alternative address can be used for traveling purposes, online shopping and more. Gmail, Yahoo, Outlook, or Mail.com offer free email address setups so you can make one with ease of mind and wallet.
However, it’s important to note some details when creating a new account. Gmail addresses ignore dots in email addresses, so an email sent to “[email protected]” and an email sent to “[email protected]” will both arrive at the same inbox. The same can be said for email addresses that contain plus signs. So messages addressed to “[email protected]” and “[email protected]” will both land in the same inbox. Good news though, this is actually helpful! Why? It means you can enter the variation on your current email address whenever you sign up for or buy something and then create a Gmail filter to put anything sent to that address in its own folder, separate from the main Primary tab.
Instructions: To create a filter in the web interface, click the Options button on the top right, followed by Settings and then Filters and blocked addresses. Click Create a new filter, enter your tweaked address in the To field, and then decide what you want to do with these types of emails.
3. Download third-party extensions
The internet truly offers a fix for everything. If you are finding that a lot of spam slips through your email provider’s spam filter, try adding a third-party app to supplement it. This type of service stops messages as they travel between an email server (the cloud where messages are stored) and your inbox.
Free is always a plus so try Mailwasher. Plug in your email login details and Mailwasher applies a series of filters to identify unwanted messages. With this, if you like, you can review the stopped emails online before they show up in your inbox.
There is also the free SpamCop service. This is like a mini police station. It allows you to report bad actors to internet service providers (ISPs) so they can block these messages at the source. This not only helps your inbox stay clean but helps others as well because you will be shutting down certain spam altogether.
4. Protect your email address
You should aim to keep your primary address as secret as you can. Do not display it on public pages such as social media platforms or a personal website. You should have a whole separate email address for this. This is the first place bots and spammers will look.
If you don’t want to keep track of too many email addresses but you have to have your email address available, try writing it out longhand. For example, try “John Smith at Google’s email service” whenever you need to display it on the web. This will make sense to a human but a bot will not be able to process and collect it.
In addition to this, there are some email marketers that will use a tracking pixel, or something similar, to decipher the difference between email addresses that are actually used and ones that are not. They send messages to a variety of addresses and as soon as a human opens one of them, the spammer will receive a confirmation that the address is in use. In order to avoid this, just don’t open spam. You most likely know what spam looks like at this point so just trash it or filter it out right away.
Spam is inevitable if the right tactics are not implemented to block it. Here at NVIT Solutions, we understand the ins and outs of email solutions and we are here to help. Give us a call to start blocking spam today!