Technology in terms you understand. Sign up for the Confident Computing newsletter for weekly solutions to make your life easier. Click here and get The Ask Leo! Guide to Staying Safe on the Internet — FREE Edition as my thank you for subscribing!

How do I stop spam?


Most advice on spam centers on filtering or not placing your email addresses on websites, etc. Too late. I cannot believe that Yahoo really wants me to view email for pills and other junk with a spelling mistake in the title to get past their filters. I also do not know why there is no Hotmail (I no longer use it) option to just receive email from my contacts. How do I stop spam without any filters whatsoever? I also have a non-FIOS free Yahoo email account for only Yahoo and I get no spam. I’m starting to believe that Verizon Yahoo is sending me this spam for additional profits. Is there a way to stop not-blocked spam? Does telling the Canadian pharmacy that I no longer want their pills still result in more spam? We have CAN-SPAM for protection, but is that worthless too?

In this excerpt from Answercast #62, I look (once again) at the pervasive nature of spam and the best ways of dealing with it.

Become a Patron of Ask Leo! and go ad-free!

Get rid of spam

Boy! So, I need to clarify a couple of things.

One is no, there is no way today to stop spam. Period. That is the practical, albeit frustrating reality of the nature of the internet today: the nature of email and spam.

The best you as an individual can do is to use spam filters. I know! Use the filters that are in your email program or in your email service to help train that service as to what is or is not spam.

Your ISP is not in cahoots with the spammers. They don’t want that spam any more than you do. Spam is taking up valuable resources from them as well and they would love to see that all go away. But, you can’t stop spam.

Anyone can send spam

So, the problem is of course that anybody can send email to anybody. Period.

Even if you manage to hide your email address in some fashion:

  • Eventually, somebody’s going to guess it.
  • Eventually, it’s going to fall into the wrong hands.
  • Eventually, it’s going to end up on a spammers list and they’re going to start sending you stuff.

The CAN-SPAM act

CAN-SPAM. My understanding of CAN-SPAM is that the legalities really haven’t done that much to stop spam – or done much that you and I would consider truly useful.

In reality, it may have been used to prosecute some of the major spammers that we occasionally hear about in the news media. But the fact is spam is so pervasive, and it’s coming from so many different places on the planet, that there is simply no legal jurisdiction that’s going to be able to just “decree” that spam must go away by fiat.

Filtering spam

The only solution to spam is a technological one. Today, that means:

  1. Making sure you’re using spam filters to their best.
  2. Using blocking when it’s available (if it’s even useful for the types of
    spam that you’re getting.)
  3. And basically, taking a breath. Stepping away. Using the Delete key liberally and moving on.

Spam is just not worth getting all wrapped up about. It’s not going to go away any time soon. There are approaches, there are certainly technologies that could be used to make spam go away, but the problem is (once again) it requires such a global coordinated effort that it’s really unlikely for that to ever happen as well.

So, the practical reality of the situation today is that no, you can’t stop spam. The best you can do is to deal with it as efficiently as possible using technologies that you have in your hands today.

Unfortunately, those seem to be the very technologies that you resist using:
filtering and blocking. I also want to point you at an article, “How do I prevent spam and scam emails from being sent to me?” The fact is it will say what I just told you – but perhaps it will give you a couple of other ideas for other things that you might do to try and reduce the amount of spam in your inbox.

End of Answercast #62 Back to – Audio Segment


Do you have a question about your computer? Maybe the Internet, or some other random technology?

Head on out to and start by searching the thousands of questions that I’ve already answered out there.

If you can’t find what you’re looking for, head out to to ask your question. I might even answer it here on a future AnswerCast.

While you’re out there, sign up for my email newsletter where you’ll get twice-weekly doses of fixes to problems, tips to avoid getting into trouble, and even the occasional answer as to why things are the way they are (or as in the case of this last question, why we can’t fix things we’d like to fix.)

Backing up!

If you take away only one lesson from anything I ever, say, please, let it be about backing up. Nothing, and I do really mean nothing, can save you from almost any disaster like a proper and recent backup.

Please realize that all of my answers are based on my own personal experience and opinions and should be used entirely at your own risk. I don’t know you, your abilities or the specifics of your machine and those details can make all the difference. Let’s face it; I’m making all this up as I go along based on my experience and best effort. I could be wrong!

The Ask Leo! AnswerCast is a production of Ask Leo! and is Copyright 2012. Thanks for listening, I’m Leo Notenboom and I’ll be back soon with another Ask Leo! AnswerCast.


Do this

Subscribe to Confident Computing! Less frustration and more confidence, solutions, answers, and tips in your inbox every week.

I'll see you there!

5 comments on “How do I stop spam?”

  1. On the other GUEST computer in my house most people are Yahoo and Facebook users and noticed their Yahoo is ovewhelmed with Spam,, On MY Personal computer I been using HOTMAIL since like a long time ,, and receive virtually NO SPAM or Obvious Junk Mail ,,, WHY ,, Bcoz I have OPTED for the PAID SUBSCRIPTION to hotmail ,, It cost $19.++ a Year and MY INBOX is CLEAN

  2. I’ve found GMail to be super-efficient at sending spam to the junk folder. I rarely ever get unwanted mail in my inbox. I think it may have happened 1 time.

    Yahoo, on the other hand, in notoriously horrible at stopping spam. I have a Yahoo account that I use for sign-ups on internet accounts, for confirmation purposes. Every time I go into my account to confirm a new sign-up there’s literally hundreds of unwanted mailings in my inbox. I just delete everything in my inbox and move on.

  3. My answer is simple. All my wanted contacts have been tagged not spam. I open the spam section, highlight anything there and erase them all. A few seconds a day and they are gone.

  4. Chuckster, that’s basically my approach. However, I never delete my spam. I use Thunderbird, and you can tell Thunderbird to automatically delete your spam after x days. So my spam gets deleted for me. Saves me the extra work.

  5. Duane,

    I can’t really explain that to you. You might want to look at the filters that might be in use.

    Very early on, I used/set up a filter that basically says that if the email is from someone who is not in my address book, mark it as spam and put it in the spam folder.

    You might also want to look at Mozilla Support. They’ve got some good articles and you can also post questions that you can’t find an answer to and get help from other users.


Leave a reply:

Before commenting please:

  • Read the article.
  • Comment on the article.
  • No personal information.
  • No spam.

Comments violating those rules will be removed. Comments that don't add value will be removed, including off-topic or content-free comments, or comments that look even a little bit like spam. All comments containing links and certain keywords will be moderated before publication.

I want comments to be valuable for everyone, including those who come later and take the time to read.