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Home > Privacy and Business > Online Privacy > Spam > What to do About Spam

What to Do About Spam

Spam is inconvenient and annoying, but many people talk about it as a "privacy" problem. This is a forgiveable error until it confuses people about what they are up against. There are several ways to fight spam and reduce its inconvenience and annoyance.

The best response to spam is to report it to your Internet Service Provider. Many ISPs have a special e-mail address to which users can forward spam, along with the header information that tells where the spam came from. The user's ISP will then report it to the ISP of the spammer. Spamming is a violation of nearly all ISPs' policies, and they will cancel the accounts of spammers. This is not a perfect solution, but it is one of the best around today.

Never reply to spam, even to ask to be removed from the spammer's mailing list. Replying to spam confirms to spammers that they have a "live" e-mail address, and they will send even more spam. These are not generally legitimate business people.

Some e-mail marketers are legitimate, and they will respect your preferences. Submit your e-mail address to the Direct Marketing Association's e-Mail Preference Service. This service will have your e-mail address removed from the lists of legitimate marketers with whom you do not have a pre-existing business relationship. (For traditional mail, this can also be done through the Direct Marketing Association's Mail Preference Service.)

Many e-mail programs can be set up to automatically delete e-mails based on the address of the sender, the content of the "Subject:" line, and the address to whom the spam is sent. Intelligently used, this can reduce the annoyance and inconvenience of spam as well.


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[updated 12/27/00]

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