What Is Spam?

When referring to emails, according to the NCES (National Centre for Education Statistic), “Spam refers to electronic junk mail or junk newsgroup postings. Some people define spam even more generally as any unsolicited e-mail. In addition to being a nuisance, Spam also eats up a lot of network bandwidth. Because the Internet is a public network, little can be done to prevent Spam, just as it is impossible to prevent junk mail. However, the use of software filters in e-mail programs can be used to remove most Spam sent through e-mail.”

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Some search engines use the term to describe websites that try to attain a high listing rank by submitting identical or mirror pages. In this article, I am going to give you a few tips about email Spam.

If we give a too general definition to the word, we might end up taking for Spam perfectly legitimate emails. Not “any” unsolicited mail is Spam. Spam means unsolicited bulk email.

If a message is unsolicited that doesn’t make it Spam. The same goes for bulk. A message is Spam only if it is both unsolicited and bulk. When you receive an unsolicited job inquiry, you do receive an uncalled-for email. But is that Spam? No. What about a newsletter? That is bulk, but no Spam if you are a subscriber.

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Why Do You Get Spam?

Have you posted your email address online in forums, chat rooms, on your website? Then why do you marvel? Spammers gather the addresses from the Internet; so no wonder your own found its way onto a spammer’s list. Besides, spammers use different other means to get what they want: viruses, Trojans, buying from other spammers.

Spam Scams

How many times have you received an “update your account” email from PayPal, a bank or eBay? How many times have you received a “warning message”? Maybe it didn’t look suspicious to you as it came from an institution you work with, but was it really that way? This kind of emails is referred to as “phishing scam”.

It is not much you can do when this happens. Just don’t click on any links in that email, don’t give away any confidential information such as social security number, bank account or credit card number. There are some free tools that can protect you against known phishing websites. For example, download the free EarthLink toolbar and report the scam to the Anti-Phishing Working Group.

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What about the emails from different Nigerian (or other nationalities) citizens offering you a percentage of a vast sum of money? Yes, you’ve got that right: scam. You’ll only lose your money on this one. Better don’t be curious.

They will ask you to pay a fee in advance – a so-called transfer tax and guess what: some complications will appear, you have to pay more and more and end up with nothing. And don’t believe the “you won money” lottery sweepstakes either. You’ll only spend. The same goes for the Nigerian purchase scam: they want to buy something from you, pay by check and they wish the goods to be sent in Lagos, Nigeria.

A Major Don’t

Don’t reply to spammers… ever! Don’t send any “remove me” message. By doing so you confirm your address is active, you show you read bulk messages, you prove your ISP doesn’t use Spam filters. You are the perfect candidate. You will never be removed. On the contrary…

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Spam Fighters

If Spam really bothers you and you want to fight against it, then you have plenty of possibilities. If you are an American, join Cause at www.cauce.org. If not… check out Cauce’s international partners (example: EuroCAUCE for Italy, Spain, Germany, Holland, France, Norway).

Associations such as to the Anti-Phishing Working Group, the American Federal Trade Commission (FTC) or other volunteers’ organizations are there to help to protect you against scam or other illegal emails (children pornography for example). Detailed information about Spam, Spammers and ways to fight against them you can find here: www.spamhaus.org.

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