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How Do I Stop All this Spam?

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I receive about 300 emails daily. I have no one to help me and I would like to be able to block all this crap. I am not very smart about PCs and need some simple instructions to follow. If I continue to receive certain pornographic or offensive emails, how do I ban them? If I open it up to get their email address to try to block them, what happens then? I need all of the help that I can get because this is too much to take care of daily. I do delete my history daily, but I don’t think that helps in blocking them. I use Yahoo! as my mail provider and I am on Windows 7.

Assuming that you mean you get 300 spam emails a day, I’ll agree that’s a fair amount. Between all my various email accounts, I suspect that I get probably around that much.

The question is not how to stop spam. Ultimately, there’s no way for you or I to do that.

The questions are how to deal with it when you get it so that it’s merely a minor annoyance rather than an overwhelming chore and how to avoid it, or at least minimize it, in the first place.

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You can’t stop spam

The bottom line is that anyone can send you email, period.

That’s good in that anyone who knows you and your email address can communicate with you via email.

It’s also bad because anyone who knows your email address can send you junk trying to sell you stuff or fool you into handing over your private information when you shouldn’t.

Blocking doesn’t work

On the surface, email blocking or banning seems like the perfect solution, but if you look deeper, spammers can work around it almost instantly.

Blocking simply tells your email provider or email program that whenever you get email from this email address, discard it immediately.

So why doesn’t that work?

Because spammers change their email address often. In fact, I’d guess that your 300 spams a day are probably from close to 300 different email addresses. And those are 300 different email addresses than the 300 spams you got yesterday, and the day before, and the day before that.

Even worse, spammers fake the email address. They can fake spam to look like it comes from your friends and acquaintances. If you ban one of those because you got spam from it, then you’ve blocked your friend, who had nothing to do with the spam in the first place.

Blocking just isn’t a viable approach any more.

(And for the record, deleting history does nothing with respect to spam.)

Unsubscribing does the opposite

I often hear from people who have been getting spam and clicking on the Unsubscribe link that is sometimes included.

Don’t.

Because if you do, you will get more spam, not less.

Spammers do not honor unsubscribe requests. Period. In fact, many use unsubscribe requests as a way to identify which of the millions of email addresses that they’re using actually belong to real people. Those email addresses are more valuable and as a result, they will then get more spam.

Now, there’s a very, very important distinction to be made here:

  • Do use unsubscribe links from reputable providers, such as people you know and mailing lists that you signed up to join.
  • Do not use the unsubscribe links in emails that you don’t recognize or are obviously spam.

Spam? Or junk?

I’ll use the term spam, but some programs and services may refer to it as junk or junk mail.

It’s all the same thing.

Spam filters make life bearable

What does work are good spam filters.

Spam filters work by looking not just at where email comes from, but the nitty-gritty technical details of the email, what it’s about, what it says and how it says it, and how many other people are getting that same email message. If it looks like spam, then the email is simply placed in your spam or junk mail folder instead of your inbox.

Of the hundreds of spam emails I get per day, I’d say less than five, perhaps even less than one or two, actually show up in my inbox.

If you have 300 spam emails arriving in your inbox every day, I’d guess that you’re not protected by a spam filter at all.

Your spam filter

If you’re using web mail, like Yahoo! as you are, then you have available to you a pretty good spam filter already.

In fact, in Yahoo! Mail, Google Mail, and Outlook.com, it appears that you can’t even turn it off! (Right now in Outlook.com, it appears you can adjust how aggressive it is, but that’s about it.)

Most modern email programs like Outlook or Thunderbird now also come equipped with a spam filter built in. Once again, most will have it enabled by default, and most will allow you to tweak how aggressive it is in the program’s settings. Exactly how this works will depend on your specific program.

Now, just because you have a spam filter, that doesn’t mean you’re done.

Training the filter

The default spam filter offered by most email services and most email programs is typically relatively good.1

But you can, and should, make it better.

You do that by telling the service or program every time that you find spam in your inbox. When you see spam in your inbox, click the checkmark next to its line in the list of email, and then click the Spam button on the toolbar:

Reporting Spam on Yahoo!

Then click Report Spam. The message will be moved to your spam folder.

Doing this tells Yahoo! that messages like this are spam to me. It then takes this information and uses it to refine its spam filter to get better at automatically detecting spam in the future. This could be either globally if enough other people say the same things about emails like that, or perhaps just for you if the system’s spam filter supports that level of personalization.

Keep doing that and the amount of spam that you find in your inbox should decrease – perhaps dramatically – over time.

If you’re using a system other than Yahoo!, such as Gmail, Hotmail, or any of quite literally hundreds of other services, or if you’re using an email program such as Outlook, Thunderbird, Windows Mail, or dozens of others, take the time to learn and understand its spam filtering features. Most now have this type of “learning” spam filter that relies on you marking spam in your box when you find it.

False positives

One of the things that worries people is that they may lose email that is incorrectly filtered as spam.

It’s a valid concern.

You should check your spam folder every so often looking for email that has been mistakenly filtered as spam.

But, and this is important, instead of just moving that email back to your inbox, mark it as Not Spam instead.

Not Spam button

This does the opposite of what the Report Spam button does. It tells your email service or program that the selected message is not spam. The spam filter is then adjusted accordingly. As with spam, it make take correcting a few false positives before the filter starts getting it right consistently.

Preventing spam in the first place

As I said, there’s no way to stop spam, only deal with it in a way that makes it less of an issue when you get it.

Similarly, there’s no way to prevent it from starting. Eventually, all email addresses will get spam. Eventually.

What you can do is avoid asking for spam. Asking? Yes, asking.

Many people unknowingly ask for spam in various ways:

  • Posting an email address publicly. If your email address is visible on a web page somewhere that anyone can get to, then “anyone” includes spammers. They have been known to harvest email addresses from web pages on the assumption that they are more likely to be real, active email addresses than simply guessing randomly (which they also do).
  • Responding to or acting on spam. Replying to any form of spam is really just a signal to the spammers that they have a real, live person at this email address, and that they should send you more spam – lots more spam, even if you ask them to unsubscribe you. Similarly, acting on spam (such as clicking on a spammer’s link or – horrors! – purchasing a product through spam) also tells spammers, “We got a live one!”
  • Enabling pictures on spam. The reason that pictures are disabled by default on most spam-filtered email is that the mere act of accessing an image so that it can be displayed can tell a spammer they have a real email address. Expect more spam.
  • Giving your email address to the wrong person, company, or agency. This is actually one reason why many people have more than one email address or create one-time or “throw-away” email addresses. Many companies will share their email lists with others or even sell the list of their customer’s email addresses. Reputable companies do not, so keep shopping at Amazon and the like, but be careful when dealing with a company you’ve never dealt with before. Consider creating and using a different email address for this purpose.

The list actually goes on. What’s worse is it includes items that are not in your control:

  • When you send a joke, photo, urban legend, rant, or what-have-you to a friend, and they then forward it on without removing your email address from the forward, your email address is now in the wild. Worse, when a friend sends you an email like that and does so by putting you and 200 other people on the To: or Cc: line, they’ve just advertised your email address to everyone else that got that email. And when they forward it without trimming … your email address makes it out to potentially hundreds or thousands of people whom you don’t know. And some are spammers. There’s literally nothing you can do, except perhaps admonish your friends not to do that – but by then, it’s too late.

That’s why I say that sooner or later every email address will get spam.

Footnotes & references

1: Though in my experience Google’s spam filter seems to be about the best.

103 comments on “How Do I Stop All this Spam?”

  1. I would rather hit the delete key 300 times than miss one legitimate email — and my experience with spam filters suggests that they filter too much real email.

    Reply
      • You are correct. YAHOO is usually the reason why you get so much spam. Their system isn’t safe at all. Try using Gmail instead of YAHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOoo

        Reply
    • The Gmail filter is really good. It does a really good job (once you have trained it a bit) of not marking real email as spam. The usual time when that happens is on some newsletters that aparently look like spam occasionally.

      By checking the spam filter occasionally, I can spot them and add their addresses to the safe list.

      Unlike Leo’s comments, the vast majority (859 of 1235 in the past month) of my spam messages come from about 25 Australian addresses that are get rich quick schemes, many stating that I am in Canada (not). I have google mail set to send those directly to the trash folder so I don’t see them as I glance at the spam filter for any real mail.

      If you are getting 300 per day and not running a major web presence like Leo, you are probably “inviting” it by going to scam sites. My girlfriend looked at some “job” sites for education and learned about it the hard way as her spam hit over 100 per day almost instantly. Fortunately, most of the spam disappeared after about half a year.
      Be careful about the sites you go to.

      I have had a web presence out there in the past where my email was listed as a contact. Keeping the spam to a minimum isn’t that hard.

      Reply
    • I have a macbook pro and literally get about 700 junk emails per day and most of them are obscene! All I ever do is shop, pay my bills and go to job websites. I can have my mail open and about 1 email every 30 seconds pops up in my junk folder. Does anyone have any suggestions about how i can block or stop the amount coming in. I’m at my wits end!
      Thanks

      Reply
      • What I’d do in a case like that is open a new email account, inform all of my contacts of the change and continue to check the old email account until I was satisfied that everyone was sending to the new address. And very important: if you ever want to sign up for any product or service via a website, never, ever give them your real email address. You can use a throwaway account for that. Your spamaged (I just invented the word) email account might be good for that.

        Reply
        • Malware is rarely something to suspect in the case of spam. From my experience, signing up for a free service on a less than reputable site is the main cause of receiving massive amounts of spam. For example, my throw away accounts which I use for signing up for offers get thousands of spam mails, whereas my real accounts get only a few a day.

          Reply
      • Do as what Team Leo said but with an exception. I know this is a huge pain but make a big pile of E-Mail addresses and associated accounts, do use one account as per website you go to. Don’t link the accounts together, keep these accounts separate from friends and family. If you start getting spam on one account, you’ll know what website is selling your data or has been hacked. Send a message to their administration that you’re receiving junk said spammers, forward the E-Mail to them. Explain why you’re contacting them and that you only have this E-Mail for their site only.
        Guilty party should confess. The problem is this, if it’s a job site that has your name, your contact information, your E-Mail, etc., that can lead to identity / credentials theft and it’s in their best interest they nip this in the bud, otherwise a lawsuit is in order.

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    • Having your own domain will not stop the spammers if you go places and enter information that they are looking for.
      It does eliminate the address book attacks with the common mail domains.
      They have many sources for your address if you have any sort of web presence.

      I own my own domain and it is not in the .com family.

      Reply
      • Sometimes having your own domain will allow more spam through because the spam filters on your server provider are not that sophisticated. It’s still worthwhile having your own personal email though because, since you are paying for it, you can get real tech support. These days Gmail, and some of the other big names have the best spam filters. So what you can do to get the best of both worlds is route your personal domain email through a Gmail account.

        Leo has a good article on that: http://ask-leo.com/how_do_i_route_my_email_through_gmail.html

        Reply
  2. Interesting subject. But as Leo said…. you are not going to stop the FLOOD. He/she should just create another Yahoo e-mail address and then abandon the old one. A pain, but I have found Yahoo does a great job with their spam filter. YES, I do go in and have to check once in a while to see what e-mail I want to read has ended up in the spam box. I’m just wondering how often this person goes in to their e-mail to check. I have friends that only do that once a month… so I can see how someone can get overloaded with spam .. or what seems like a lot. One other note…. I very seldom forward messages and get very few messages of the joke type forworded to me. This person just has to be careful with that stuff.

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  3. Hi Leo
    Keep 2 E-Mail addresses. One never gets spam as I’m very careful with it. The other (this one) does. Question : Can I block an address however useless, without opening it first. At the moment I just keep deleting all spam auto. Find that the specific senders stop after a while. Real prob. as I see it is that some of my social contacts keep on getting hacked. Once they do, my spam seems to increase on my social e-mail considerably. Any ideas Leo or do I just soldier on ????

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  4. You have to train the filter some, it doesn’t just wave a virtual wand. It’s funny how I get few spam email on Yahoo but then Idon’t send all my different accounts to it and I use it sparcely, not sending so many sites my address to register with.

    Since I removed all but a couple the anmount has decreased dramatically. Occasionally Chinese language posts have increased and eventually your Yahoo! account will be hacked (likely by blind guessing) and you should change your password regularly or in my case change the account you use on any of their Yahoogroups and blogs as those are prone to exploit due to their usual email digesting links. Read groups directly, don’t digest and it should help some.

    I would NOT recommend using a common login source to login to many sites-once hacked they have access to sevral accounts, not just one, creating a big mess. Crack one site and all are compromised.

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  5. Gord:
    You should try gmail’s filter. It is very good (once you have tuned it in) at not blocking real email.

    One thing that Leo forgot to mention in the training part is to go to the spam box occasionally and look for real email. If you are using filters in gmail to put them in folders, the legitimate ones stand out so you only have to glance at 100 spam to spot a good one. When you tell it that it is good, it will learn.
    If you happen to have a particular sender that really looks like spam, you can white list their address.

    My girlfriend went to a few “job” sites and became instantly flooded with spam. I changed her to a google account (with the old one forwarded to it) and google ended the flood to her inbox.

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  6. One other option is to only have names in your contact or safe user list show up in your inbox, and all others go to the Junk folder. You would have to check your junk folder to see if you need to add any of them to your contact list, and it won’t stop you from getting Spam from real hacked accounts that are in your contact list, but it is a great way to keep it fairly clean. I know hotmail has that option -might want to check to see if yours has that option.

    Reply
  7. When someone (a merchant, for instance) asks for an e-mail address, I give him a unique “smeakemail.com” address.

    Go to the sneakemail.com website for details of how you get these addresses. Creating a sneakemail address is simple, not the hoops you go through to crate a real address.

    When that sneakemail address gets spam, I merely delete that unique address – therefore no more spam is received at that address.

    My spam load is something around less than half a dozen per day on my “good” address.

    Those that I do get I report to “spamcop.net” for their blocklist that many ISPs use for blocking spam. If your ISP uses that blocklist, your spam load should be minimal.

    Reply
    • I also report spam to spamcop. I set my mail account spam filters to none so that I never miss legitimate mail but even so rarely get more than eight items of spam a day.

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  8. Either I’m doing something wrong or Windows Live Mail is absolutely useless at blocking spam. It doesn’t even catch my “Blocked Senders”, not even when I block the whole domain. Any suggestions?

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  9. I have Yahoo as well and am rather happy as I seldon receive spam messages in my inbox.
    But when I open that spam-folder to see if a “good” e-mail might have slipped into that folder, I find daily up to 50 or more mails with dates that range from 2012 until 2038… Of course the delete is always very busy every day.
    Yahoo wrote me that they can’t do anything about it. Well- I accept and smile, whatelser can Ido?

    Reply
  10. If like me you download all your emails via Windows Live Mail, one way to deal with Spam is to use a great program called Mailwasher. Many years ago I paid a small fee for the Pro version. Now I find that 80-90% of Spam emails automatically get tagged for deletion when I do finally download all the good emails. Mailwasher can very easily be trained to add addresses to a Friends list, Blacklisted list etc. Try out the free version, if you like it I would recommend the small fee for the Pro version.

    Reply
    • I have been using Mailwasher Pro for several years and found I could train it to put mal n several categories. The opening screen shows which senders or domains I want to block, mark good or friend. After sorting and washing mail(deleting blacklisted) and then opening Outlook has worked for me.

      Reply
  11. In addition, if you are using business emails like mail @yourbusiness.com, get your webmaster to do 2 things: reputable hosts have powerful filters that can be set at various levels, make sure it is turned on and set to delete; instead of simply have the email link, get the webmaster to use script which can’t be read by robots but display like an email if somebody wants to copy it manually. I get NO spam through my business email, nor do my clients. But I get the Yahoo ones on my IPS email. I never open an email . gmail, .hotmail, yahoo unless I know the sender.

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  12. I now get about 5 a week, used to get hundreds, i use a little program called mailwasher to multiple bounce email back to the spammers – they soon get the message!

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  13. Hi Leo. Thanks for the article on spam. I personally find it annoying that anyone can spoof someone else’ address. I’d like to see changes to the internet protocols that make it possible to identify the source of any email, and impossible to disguise it. If it’s a spammer we can deal with them, if it’s a hijacked computer, we can “encourage” the owner to improve their security.

    Reply
  14. Cloudmark is an excellent free spam blocker. Also Spamihilator is good. GMail is the best of the webmail accounts at blocking spam. Very little gets through (almost None!).

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  15. One way to reduce the influx of spam is to open those emails from legitimate online businesses that you don’t want to deal with and unsubscribe your email address. Let me emphasize LEGITIMATE. Sometimes you get put on the email list when you order something or even just inquire about a product. The established legitimate online businesses prefer removing your address from their list to having their emails dumped into your spam.

    Reply
  16. @Digital artist
    When I get unsolicited email for a “legitimate company” (like the ones who feel justified in spamming you just because you bought something from them once), I click the unsubscribe button, but I also mark it as Spam. It’s my small retribution to these companies who feel they have a right to send Spam just because I had a business transaction with them. This is pretty rare, as I now use a throw away address even dealing with big companies.

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  17. I recommend using Thunderbird (even for the poster’s Yahoo! mail). Thunderbird blocks remote content, so it’s safe to open the email if you need to peek, or find out the sender’s address, etc. For legitimate email, you can tell Thunderbird to allow remote content for that particular sender.

    I have also set up a filter that says that if the sender is not in my address book then mark the email as spam and move it to the junk folder. This works because I don’t have a business and I don’t expect to receive email from unknown people. The junk filter gets trained, and the email is still there, just in case I want to check for legitimate email that might get marked incorrectly.

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  18. Surprisingly, considering what others experience, I get only a couple of spams a week in my in box. Also, I very seldom have a desired email directed to my trash. I get regular email from an ever changing list of friends and organizations and always think carefully about who I contact and what they might do with my information. I don’t think I am just lucky in this regard. All I could suggest is to think before hitting the open or send button.

    Reply
  19. Why don’t you use spamitback, that should cause them some grief. A nice program I think.

    There is no way that I would recommend using any kind of a service that tries to “spam back” at the spammers. Basically you’re making yourself a spammer, which is at least unethical, and quite possibly illegal. Not only that but the service is very likely to end up spamming the wrong people. Remember, the majority of spam has a fake return address. That means if you decide to “spam back” you’re probably spamming some innocent bystander.

    Leo
    05-Nov-2012

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  20. I am surprised that you didn’t mention the Yahoo mail feature “Disposable addresses” which is available through the Options menu. I use this all the time, with different email addresses for different correspondents. This enables me to easily manage all my emails including to instantly delete any addresses which start to attract undue amounts of spam. Note also that the deleted email addresses can be re-instated later if required. I get hardly any spam.

    Reply
  21. Hi
    Good stuff this
    Tried MailWasherFree, and so far seems to work very well.
    As I do block Ad’s, Tracking etc. Am looking forward to seeing the long term results re. Spam.

    Reply
  22. IncrediMail has a feature called “Bounce/Block”. If you use the “Bounce to Sender” choice, they say it returns the message to the sender as if it were a bad address, You also have an option of blocking or unblocking these senders. It seems to work pretty well.

    Reply
  23. I only get Spam at my Yahoo address – perhaps 1 per day. It’s UPS notifications, and Viagra + Cialis advertisements, but they never come into my Inbox. They go directly to Spam.

    My Hotmail account gets no Spam at all.

    Gmail is my “real” account and it gets no actual Spam. Occasionally a genuine email gets sent to the Spam folder and I don’t notice it right away, because Gmail’s Spam folder is hidden under the “More” drop-down list of folders.

    I often wonder what do other people do to attract so many problems on their email accounts, but perhaps it’s just not my turn yet.

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  24. i used to have the same problem of getting 70 or 80 spam emails every day. i did as Dan suggested and discontinued the email account and opened a new one. my old address started with “aint” and i figured there must be 10`s of 1000`s of email addresses that start with that word. so i created an address with no words or phrases in it for spammers to look up. don`t see spam anymore.

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  25. I have three email addresses with three different providers.I’ve managed them all through gmail for many years.I get little spam and gmail has never misdirected it.I just check the spam folder occasionally and then press ‘All Delete’ Lately,I’ve been using ‘Maskme’ -a free program as an additional insurance.

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  26. I have said this, before, but do not remember if it was here. If 100% of the people who respond to spam, get ripped off, they won’t open the next one. Then they will warn as many people as they can. So there is nobody to open spam, it should go away, but it doesn’t, why? I have told everybody I know about ordering this crap, and the others know better. Yet it still keeps coming. Even a YA account, who I gave to nobody, now gets spam(someone guessed it, I think).

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  27. Having used several web based email services as well as my own domain, I’ve found that Gmail’s ability to filter spam is virtually perfect. I’ve been using it since it was in beta and in all those years it has trapped virtually all spam and blocked legit emails only twice. I originally got the Gmail as a throwaway account but after seeing how well it worked it became my primary account. I even forward my own domain email to Gmail just for the filtering.

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  28. I have two Outlook ( Hotmail ) mail accounts . These forward to my Yahoo account, which very rarely gets spammed. About once a week, I go through the junk folders at Outlook and mark anything that I want to come to me as ” not junk “. None of the spam gets forwarded, just the stuff i want to receive. A little extra work, but cheap , and easy.

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  29. One thing I’ll do with a suspect email is drag it from Outlook onto the desktop & open it with Notepad. Granted, images will show as garbled text, but in most cases, I’ll be able to tell if it’s a legitimate email or not. So far it has not cause any increase in the several junk emails I get per day.

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  30. i have firefox and windows 7. every time i open my email i get an error” external account failure. unable to connect to pop 3 server. i can read my email but this keeps popping up. how can i get rid of it?

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  31. I bought SPAMfighter for Outlook (the email client software on Windows) and used it for several months. However, although it seemed to be quite good at first, it turned out to be not all that much better than the built-in filter in Outlook.

    Worse, it was quite buggy and when I reported the problems to technical support, they basically fobbed me off quite rudely, saying: “SPAMfighter works as intended and we are not going to change anything”.

    The bugs were mostly to do with the black/white lists. I would mark certain false positives as “not spam”, but they would consistently appear in the spam folder. Similarly, there were certain emails that I marked as spam several times, but the filter would consistently let them through into my inbox. I couldn’t identify what caused these bugs and the tech suppport wasn’t interested in addressing the issue either.

    I also discovered that SPAMfighter uses the Windows registry as a private database for storing the white and black lists! This is very sloppy program design, and can make your entire Windows system vulnerable to corruption. I was eventually informed that I could only export my black/white lists by exporting the keys in the registry. And when I did so, all I got was a long string of hex codes that I had to convert into actual characters. This is when I noticed yet another bug in the system: some records didn’t have a delimiter – meaning two emails were sometimes joined together (which may explain why they weren’t filtered out or in).

    Until they fix the bugs, keep their private database out of the registry and address their cavalier attitude at sales and tech support, avoid SPAMfighter.

    Spam Reader is equally as good (or bad). (The bad of Spam Reader is that it doesn’t have an easy way to add to the black/white lists. You have to do gather the good/bad email addresses manually and add them to the black/white lists as a separate activity. It also doesn’t support names and emails in Unicode.) Tech support is much friendlier and more comprehensive than that of SPAMfighter.

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  32. Hello! If you are getting 300 spam messages a day you must be doing something seriously wrong! :). Of course, Leo is the expert, and his advice is excellent if you have to keep your current account. If you don’t, I would just build new ones and start over!

    I use 3 E-mail accounts: 1 Yahoo account and 2 Gmail accounts. The amount of spam that shows up in my inbox everyday is essentially zero! Both Google and Yahoo do an excellent job of either blocking spam or shuttling it into other folders. Sure, setting up new E-mails and informing your important contacts is a pain, but it has got to be easier than dealing with 300 spam E-mails a day!

    Once you set up your new E-mail accounts, protect them! Set up a primary account for key contacts and use it only when dealing with them. You can set up another account for signing up for newsletters, social networking sites, etc., that my expose you to risk.

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  33. As of today’s date, my real account (Gmail) has 0 Spam – get 1 every few months, my subscription account (Yahoo) has 104 Spam, and my experimental account (Hotmail) has never ever had any Spam. I deliberately avoided making Hotmail my real address because I expected it to be the worse of the bunch.

    Reply
    • I have exactly the same configuration, and my Yahoo account which I use for newsletters gets an order of magnitude more spam than my GMail account. I believe my Hotmail/Outlook.com account doesn’t get any spam simply because I never use it. I’ve heard good things about Outlook.com lately, but the way you use the account has a lot to do with how much spam you’ll get.

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  34. My forst post with leo – thanks for a great service Leo! I just wanted to give you all ONE word with spam filtering – MAILWASHER – that is all. It is by a company called Firetrust and I’ve been using it for years. I’ve found it the closest thing to the holy grail of spam control. It deals spam BEFORE it comes anywhere near your machine, while it is still only on your ISP’s server. It has capability to report spam to certain authorities who can do something about it – all while keeping your machine and outlook program free of it. Literally the best thing since sliced bread as far as spam goes. I’m in Australia (dunno if that’s important!) and it works a treat here. Look it up – Mailwasher. Hope it helps!

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  35. My very active elderly mother in law has the same complaint. Problem is that she doesn’t really get any “real ” e-mail from friends to her “In Box”, since most her friends are no longer with us, or don’t even own a computer.
    So… she looks in the yahoo spam folder and can’t believe the trashy e-mails she gets, not realizing that she’s looking in the spam folder.
    So, Yahoo is working, she just doesn’t understand the process. She calls me, I go to her house, clean out the spam folder, and she’s happy. Good ‘excuse’ to stop by for a visit now and then.

    As for Yahoo: according to our IT staff, yahoo.com is the most blacklisted domain in corporate America as a spam generator.

    Reply
      • I gotta disagree with you on Challenge and Response. I use Choicemail and it has reduced the spam in my inbox to only those senders that I want to receive email from. It first loads my entire address book and anyone I send email to into my approved list. Everything else it challenges, then it gives me a notice when I get request to receive email that I simply route into a subfolder in Outlook or I can open Choicemail and review all the suspended email and accept it (add it to my approved list) or either reject it or let it sit in suspense to be erased in however many days I chose. I tried using filters, but the creeps out there keep coming up with small changes in their email to circumvent filters. Only Challenge and Response works. If senders don’t like it, tough. It’s MY email inbox and I control it not them. You can pick your preferred Challenge/Response software but be sure it offers YOU total control and the ability to add all of your email addresses and to change your mind about who is and who isn’t on your approved list. Sorry. Challenge/Response is empowering and makes email useful to you again.

        Reply
        • Just a question. Is checking the suspended mail any less work than using a spam filter and deleting the occasional spam message that slips through?

          Reply
        • Challenge systems are a bit of work though, you have to keep up on it. Makes it a bit difficult to sign up for things like good newsletters because you often have to go searching for which email to verify. But if you get a LOT of spam…

          Reply
  36. A good way to spot spam is to look at the rediculous gibberish domain names that they use for a From address. Since these spoofed domain names change all the time, adding them to a blocked senders list is pointless.

    Reply
  37. My anti-spam trick is much simpler; although, it only works because 99% of all my email is from people in my address book.

    I set up a filter in Thunderbird: if not in address book, then mark as spam (which gets moved to the spam folder). The only time I see spam is when the spammer sends email to me from me.

    Reply
    • Unsubscribing from legitimate newsletters is a good thing to do. You help clear up resources for the good guys if you aren’t reading their newsletter any more. So back to basics… it’s about learning who to trust.

      Reply
  38. One of three reasons I quit using Yahoo! and switched to Hotmail a year and a quarter ago was mainly because the e-mail address was being spammed. Now I know that it is kind of overboard to get a new e-mail address just because of a little spam, but my point is that the built-in Yahoo! spam filter blocking some less than 60% of spam was pathetic. Although I must be doing something right, because this e-mail I have had since December of 2012 (not 13) has not received spam yet.

    I’m not sure why viewing images in e-mails would cause more spam: I could understand the spammers knowing a specific computer requested an image, but not an e-mail address. Odd

    By the way, something in the Microsoft Security Intelligence report (volume 15, the most recent one as of this post): it mentions an increase of “Spam messages that include images and no text, which spammers sometimes send in an effort to evade detection by antispam software,” from so-and-so time frame. Interesting way of Spamming, and I suppose that would be why legitimate e-mails with a simple picture (not as an attachment) but no text get.

    Reply
  39. well you can do all this, wasting your time, or you can periodically get a completely new email address. there are several free email that are not tracked by the powers that be like yahoo and gmail are. as long as you don’t let it fester too badly then everything’s mostly ok.

    Reply
  40. Hi
    I realise this thread has been ‘going’ for years and so much has changed – I guess I get more junk.

    I have my own domain.
    I probably have 100-200 spam filters set up at my domain but still get probably 100 spoams a day.
    Perhaps the most annoying is the multiple messages from 1 spammer – i.e. 20 – 50 messages all appear identical and usually with attachment (that I don’t open) and appearing to come from a legitate address (certainly a ‘real’ company domain)

    We can’t ISP’s somehow stop this. Wherever the messages originates from must be aware of the huge multiple copies. Each appropriate network that the messages enter & leave must be obvious. Furthermore whilst my SPAM filter moves lots of mail to a JUNK folder it still doesn’t recognise the last 3 or 23 messages are identical.

    As someone stated above – ” if spam continues to grow then it will make email itself less useful|”

    Surely the likes of Google , Yahoo etc “SEE” many of these messages (many probably originate with them) and could apply a little bit of brain power to do something about the problem.

    Reply
    • One problem is that 1000 different spam messages are probably sent by 1000 completely different computers. How? By machines used by everyday people that have been infected with malware – a botnet, to be precise. These cause spam messages to originate from random machines all over the globe. Google, et al, do have good solutions, but on the receive end, not send. I own my own domain, but I still run all my email through Gmail because it’s the best spam filter currently.

      Reply
  41. Note 8.0. How to UnBlock email that has gotten labeled as spam: open spam folder, open email that was labeled spam, clik at upper right a circle with diagonal line and -sign on it, this should unblock it.

    Reply
  42. After staying in a hotel for a week, I starting receiving more than 60 spams daily. I finally realized that the Internet service in the hotel was not secure. After dealing with the aggravation of constantly blocking spammers who change their domains every day, I downloaded a program that changes my IP address every time I boot up, or I can simply turn off the program and turn it back on, (an on/off button on the page), and my IP address is changed. Right now, my IP address is 1200 miles from my computer. I also have a blocker that helps. The IP address program is relatively inexpensive, and I can install it on 5 devices, including my iPhone. One more thing, spammers can find you when you use cellular data.
    In the past 3 days, I have received 6 spams.

    Reply
    • I have no idea how changing your IP address should have any affect whatsoever on spam. Spam is sent to your email address, regardless of what IP address you happen to be connected to.

      Reply
  43. Hi, Leo. My son told me exactly the same thing that you did (he’s a computer whiz and works for Apple). He told me that it’s pure coincidence that I was getting dozens of spams daily after staying in a hotel, but after I started changing my IP address every day, the only spams that I get are the usual ones for viagra. Maybe it’s just dumb luck, the stars were in alignment and my wishes came true, but for some reason, I’m not dealing with those annoying spams. While I have been diligent in blocking several senders, their domains change almost faster than I can block them. Thank you for your comment and I hope that I did not mislead any readers.
    I have a question, though…why is it that my husband very rarely gets spam, and I get dozens after staying in a hotel? How did all of these spammers suddenly obtain my email address?

    Reply
    • Did you use your email address when registering for the hotel? Are you ALWAYS treating the hotel like an open Wi-Fi hotspot? It’s very possible that the hotel is leaking the information, or that there are people snooping on an unsecure connection. (And for the record, changing your IP address should have absolutely nothing to do with spam.)

      Reply
  44. Hi Guys.. I know you all have a hell a lot of problems with Spams… But this is the reality

    There is a business of all Spammers and there are many companies earning revenue out of it. and there are companies whose business model is on such marketing emails which we usually mark in spam. There is a list of Email ID and IP addresses which are available for purchase. most of the spams are some marketing mails or are from some hackers who want to steal your data.

    The whole of your data is available through Social networks, Cookies, Online Purchases and all other online activities you do. The thing with filtering/blocking/marking junk/marking spam does not work 100% correctly because it is designed in that way. There are numerous methods where the filtering of Yahoo/Gmail/Hotmail are cracked and email repeatedly keeps coming to the Inbox from the same domain name irrespective whether you have blocked them are No.

    There is a best way to counter it and that is to make a separate temporary mail id and use it everywhere online. That way you don’t use it for any other reason apart from online use. and use auto forward from only specific domains to your regularly used email id so that you are aware about those mail. And then keep an optional rule in your current mail id that all mail sent from your temporary mail id will be downloaded manually and not automatically. This way you control the spammers to getting your real data.

    In this way even if there are multiple spams, you can ignore them straight away as you dont use your mail id for any other purposes.

    Reply
  45. I don’t hardly get any spam on my email accounts (2). Maybe one email a week. But my husband’s yahoo spam folder gets 100+ a day. At least they are not in his inbox but he has to look through all spam emails because of the occasional important one that is mis-marked. Is there any way to reduce all the spam he gets?

    Reply
  46. I have blocked one email address in Yahoo, now i have removed it, still that
    address is unable to send email to me, why?

    Reply
  47. I had hoped to find someone else that had the same question(s) as I do but no such luck. Sure hope Leo or someone
    can tell me what to try to resolve my spam problem. First of all…I have 2 Samsung tablets that I use rather then a
    computer. They have 3 different spam filters for my 2 email accts. TRASH..JUNK…and SPAM. I have to clean out all
    3 boxes with “trash” and “junk” being the worst…I start with the first one and it is always the worst. Then I clean out
    junk and its almost as bad. Spam box has the least. If that isn’t bad enough…I will see the first 2 will have old spam
    that comes back!!! 1 week…2 weeks and I just don’t get it. Any suggestions would be extremely appreciated. Thanks.

    Reply
  48. I do like the article advise and has been doing it long before reading it I created a new email address and use it only for official mail like banking and shopping. Change all business mail addresses to your official one. Create a new one for friends and acquaintances. Do not delete the spammed email address to be able to check it at least every month to make sure no important mail still coming so you can address the issue. I have this spamming issue with my first and most beloved email address and I’m still hoping it clear some day. So much for wishful thinking. Last but not least avoid giving your official address to shady businesses like XXX sites, lol!

    Reply
    • My take is telling people that they should focus their energies elsewhere – somewhere other than getting rid of spam, perhaps to managing spam instead – I don’t feel is useless at all.

      Reply
  49. Any way for forwarding the spam emails themselves (in yahoo) to a new folder that I create. I mean those emails that have already been sent to the spam or junk folder. I do not want to see them. I am really frustrated that I receive some spams in my inbox, but I am very frustrated that in the spam folder I found tenths of spam emails per day.
    Any suggestion?

    Reply
  50. I get about 40 spam Emails a day from some company selling a useless product called SlimPanties….
    I have moved these to the Spam Folder, but the next day they are right back in my Inbox?? I have no need for any type of panties as I am male, so WHAT IS THIS PLEASE??
    Also, HOW are they moving back to my Inbox after being marked as Spam??

    Reply
    • Are you sure they’re moving back and these aren’t just new emails? I’d also have ot know what email service you use. You may need to contact the email provider to find out more.

      Reply
  51. I keep a distribution list of everyone that I really want to receive mail from (I can always update the list). Then once a year, I have my provider delete my account and set up a new e-mail account. I then send out an e-mail to the distribution list notifying my friends and business contacts. Spam greatly reduced. I use Thunderbird and have extensive filters, so this works until toward the end of the year. In January, I repeat the process. I can’t stop spam, but I can really reduce it. I have used e-mail services in the past that had a bounce feature that sent an undeliverable message back if I tagged the message. This didn’t really work. The only system that has ever proved effective, other than aggressive spam filters, has been my own method. It may seem drastic, but it works. I consider this method to be similar to the idea of periodically changing passwords. Why not periodically change your e-mail address?

    Reply
    • That might work for some people, but many if not most people might want to receive email from people not in their address book. For example, someone you gave your business card to.

      Reply
    • To answer that last (albeit rhetorical) question: because my email address is out there in the hands of people that a) aren’t on any list that I manage, and b) I DO want to hear from. Think of things like email subscriptions, shopping accounts, and so on. Things that WON’T change unless you proactively, one at a time, change each one manually yourself.

      Reply
  52. outlook is allowing as many as 1000 SPAMS/PHISHING expeditions past it’s soi-disant “filter”. I mark the vast majority as spam or phishing foe Outlook?microsoft….must have now advised and identified to microsoft of several thousand i have received and yes…the same spams etc reappear time and time again. The joks is the majority have no hope…if they looked they would see that being past 80- years i am not buying life insurance, seeking sex partners or sex aids, going dancing or purchasing a donkey to share a sexual experience ! So much then for Outlook . I am sure I am being by one single prolofic spammer what galls m,e ios it wuld be s easty for Microsoft with all its guge databases and lists , to block knoiwn spoammers in any of their identities.

    Reply
    • I find that my hotmail.com (now outlook.com) email service does a very poor job of filtering spam. One thing you can do is change your settings to that only people in your Safe Senders list will get into your inbox. Click on > the gear > Options > Junk Email: Filters and Reporting > can select > “Only trust email from my safe sender’s list.”

      Even better is to set up a Gmail account and run your Hotmail through there. This article will help you with that: https://askleo.com/how_do_i_route_my_email_through_gmail/

      Reply
  53. Keep one email for all your personal and private business. Get one of the free email accounts that are offered. Use the free email for all web forms or any time you are asked for an email account. Problem solved. That email address is sold to advetising compaies. I rarely receive any spam mail to my main emain because i never use it for forms. Helpful tip.

    Reply
  54. Realising the dangers of placing an email address on our web site, I use a work-around.
    I place the email address in a frame and then convert the frame into a “picture”.
    The email address remains readable to a human, but not to any machine.

    Reply
  55. I get tons of criminals sending me emails. Most are with a gmail ‘reply’ address; at least they have a reporting service that seems to work. However, yahoos spam reporting only works if you already have an account with them. It is just shocking that these massive free email companies do very little to stop these criminal networks using their service. Then when you try to report them they make it almost impossible. All part of the NSA data gathering I guess, or the more fake emails they get the better it looks for their investors.

    Reply
  56. I have been fighting spam using the SpamCop method of determining the origin of the message by examining the header. looking up the ISP hosting the site, and sending them a complaint along with a copy of the message. I would like to share some of my most encouraging replies.

    From an ISP in Iceland:

    Hello,

    I believe you reported this also before yes? since there has been no response I am suspending the service. Thank you.

    Best greetings,
    A. Kárason
    Customer Support Supervisor
    OrangeWebsite.com – ‘Your solid partner in business’

    From an ISP in Germany:

    Dear Sir or Madam,

    We have received your information regarding spam and/or abuse and we shall follow up on this matter.

    The person responsible has been sent the following instructions:
    – Solve the issue
    – Send us a response

    Important note:
    When replying to us, please leave the abuse ID [AbuseID:3D467A:1C] unchanged in the subject line.

    Kind regards

    Sandra Stelzer

    Hetzner Online GmbH
    Industriestr. 25
    91710 Gunzenhausen / Germany
    Tel: +49 9831 505-0
    Fax: +49 9831 505-3
    http://www.hetzner.com

    And now a no-nonsense reply from Russia:

    Dear Sir,

    Your abuse was received and transferred to our client. It was marked as Purple danger level. According to the statutory rules, the client has to remove the reason of your complaint within 24 hours.
    We apologize on behalf of our client for the current situation.
    If you still had any questions, please, do not hesitate to contact abuse@pinspb.ru.

    Best regards PIN Abuse team!

    If more of us would do this we could put a big dent in the problem. Besides, it’s fun.

    Reply
  57. My spam folder is stuffed full, but my inbox still gets even more spam than the spam folder. How can I fix it so that only emails from people in my contacts list make it to my inbox? Everything else can go to spam. I can’t even use my email. I have to tell people that if they are going to email me, tell me that they’ve emailed me so I can do a search in my inbox to find it.

    Reply
    • The settings for that would be different for each email program or webmail website. If things have gotten that bad, you might consider opening a new email account and notifying all your contacts. And never use your real email address to sign up for things. Have a separate throwaway account for that.

      Reply
    • Depends entirely on what email program or system you use. In general restricting only to your contacts list sounds good, but in practice we all get important emails from sources whose email addresses we can’t predict ahead of time. If your current program or provider is that bad, I’d switch to one that handles spam more cleanly.

      Reply
  58. I am getting email from a different address 40 times a day. The address is just letters[ionwskwd@nqctbsjxjt.com] and you can block it tomorrow every one blocked will change the letters so they get past the block. I was going to change my spam so it deleted when it hits but Yahoo has changed that. By leaving it they now use other mail names with the same row of letters. I’m sure it is a scam or a way Yahoo makes you pay for their better service. Any ideas ?

    Reply
    • This is exactly why blocking doesn’t work. Simply mark the email as spam and eventually Yahoo! will learn that it’s spam and automatically send it to your spam folder, not your inbox. That’s the way spam is supposed to be handled.

      Reply
  59. This is a major complaint by anyone who uses e-mail often. About half of mine is junk, unfortunately including my telephone calls after I tried by changing the number to prevent it. There really is no valid prevention, but when I have time I will write (or call) the source of the message to inform them, “Because I received an advertisement from you, I never believe anything you tell me and refuse to buy your brand for my entire life!”

    Reply
    • The problem is, in most cases, the people sending the spam don’t work for the company selling the product, and sending a reply will likely open you up to more spam because they know they have a “live one”.

      Reply
  60. I thought this was very helpful. Thank you! Here I was blocking all of these email addresses and it wasn’t helping on yahoo at all. I’m happy to try this “reporting spam” method. Thank you!!

    Reply

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