A guide to stopping & reporting SPAM emails

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Welcome to our guide to SPAM emails
SPAM emails are one of the most annoying things that we encounter on the Internet. Not only do SPAM emails fill our mailboxes up with junk, it also wastes our time when we have to continually delete it.

The golden rule to help prevent SPAM is: Never reply to a SPAM email
SPAM emails will almost always invite you to unsubscribe from their mailing list.

This is a way for them to confirm your email address is real. It will offer a link or it will say something like 'Reply to this email with UNSUBSCRIBE in the subject', never do it.

In this guide we will give you some general tips about how you can try and minimise these nuisance SPAM emails. We will also look at how you can help stop spammers by reporting the SPAM emails you receive.

First, let's start with some basics about SPAM emails.

What is a SPAM email?

A SPAM Email is an unsolicited commercial email. In other words, an email trying to sell you something which you haven't requested. The products or services offered can actually be authentic but more often than not they are either substandard or just a complete con. If you did not request the email then it is best to assume it is SPAM and to deal with it accordingly.

Where do they get my email address from?

Spammers get email addresses by various methods, the most common are listed below:

Dictionary attacks
Some spammers use software to randomly generate email addresses for popular email providers. Commonly called dictionary attacks, the software will guess the first part of an email address: guessed@emailprovider.com

The way to avoid this is to use an email address containing special characters such as underscores or numbers.

Purchasing third party lists
Buying email addresses from third parties.

To avoid this only give your email address to trusted sites.

Email Harvesters
Some spammers use special software called email harvesters which scan webpages for email addresses. Common targets for email harvesters are message boards and social networking websites.

To avoid your email being picked up by this type of software, when including your email address on a webpage (for example when you use a message board) try to obscure it. For example, use john AT yourprovider.com instead of using the @ symbol.

Some SPAM Emails appear to come from trusted sites?

This is called email spoofing, in these cases the spammer's apparent email address will be a trusted domain name. The only way to really see where the email has come from is by viewing the full header information of the SPAM email.

Another common problem which utilises spoofing is what is referred to as phishing. This is when an email appears to come from a bank, credit card company or even a parcel service. It requests personal information usually with a link to an online form for you to complete. Major banks and other financial institutions never contact a client by email requesting this sort of information, if you do receive this type of email do not follow the instructions.

How can I report SPAM emails?

To actively do something about the SPAM problem by reporting any SPAM emails you receive, there are different ways to go about it depending on where you live.

How to Report SPAM emails in the United States
In the US the legislation covering SPAM emails is the CAN-SPAM ACT (Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act).

To report any SPAM emails forward a copy of them to spam@uce.gov.

For more on the CAN-SPAM ACT visit the Federal Trade Commission website.

How to Report SPAM emails in the United Kingdom
In the UK you have the The Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003.

To report SPAM emails that have originated from the UK you can fill out a complaint form, which you can find here.

For more on SPAM emails in the UK visit the Information Commissioner's website.

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