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Spam Prevention Tips

Written by: Milly Welsh
Published: January 2011

If you have an email address, it's a pretty safe bet that you have a problem with unsolicited emails, AKA Spam.  For both organizations and individuals, the war waged in the inbox with unsolicited emails can be a costly one. Many of us who use email are burdened with purchasing anti-spam software, which can often be so aggressive that it causes you to miss legitimate emails.  Spam is also the source of countless computer viruses that reeks havoc on your computer.  The whole process of managing Spam is expensive and time consuming.  Unfortunately, once a spammer has your email address, there isn't a whole lot you can do about it.  The key really is prevention.  Over the years, I have learned a few tips on how to prevent spammers from getting their hands on your email address and I share them here.

You may be wondering why protecting your email address is the best way to prevent Spam.  Why can't spammers be stopped?  Although sending unsolicited emails in bulk is illegal, it's a law that is largely not enforced.  Part of the problem is that sending Spam emails is extremely easy and cheap.  Even a beginner programmer could make light work out of crafting a script that sends out mass emails and makes it look like it was sent by any email address they choose.   Since there currently isn't a way for the email recipient to check that an email was in-fact sent by the email address listed, there is nothing to stop spammers from sending out unwanted emails to you or anyone else.  Another part of the problem revolves around how hard it is to catch spammers.  80% of spam is actually sent by Botnets or Zombie computers, which are computers infected with a virus that causes them to relay Spam emails.  In most instances the owners of these computers have no idea what is going on, making it virtually impossible to uncover the real source of Spam emails.

Spam Preventing Tips:

Don't shop or subscribe to websites that will sell your email address to a third-party.  Sadly there is money to be made by selling valid email addresses and even some reputable websites will do this to make extra money.  Most popular websites have privacy policies.  Before you enter your personal information, make sure to read this policy to ensure that your email address won't be sold to others.

If you suspect that an email is spam, don't click on the link, no matter how intriguing.  For example a lot of Spam emails have an “unsubscribe link”.  It seems reasonable to assume that by clicking on the link you can remove your email address from that mailing list, however this is often just a dirty trick devised by spammers to confirm that your email address is valid.  Clicking on a link of this nature will actually cause you to receive more spam as it verifies that you received the email.  Spammers will then add your email address to future spam mailing lists and sell it to other spammers. 

Hide your email address from web crawlers.  Your website is a natural target for spammers.   You want to make sure that potential customers can reach you, so of course you want your email address displayed prominently on your website.  Spammers will exploit this and use websites to gather email addresses for their mailing lists.  They typically do this with the help of web crawlers, a computer program that browses the web.  Fortunately, nearly all web crawlers are easy to fool.  They are looking for email addresses written out in the traditional way (example:  Just by changing the @ sign to &#64 (example: me & in the source code of your HTML page, you can stop most web crawlers from harvesting your email.  Your web browser will display the code as a normal email address but web crawlers won't pick it up.  Using JavaScript is another good way to hide your email address. The following website provides a form that will automatically convert your email address into JavaScript code

Milly Welsh

Milly Welsh

Milly Welsh is the Priority Learning webmaster and Owner/Operator of Zebralove Web Solutions, a web development company located in southern Maine.
Zebralove Web Solutions