Understanding the Spam Trap

  • Published: Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021

You have contacted a major retailer for information about a product or service. They are requesting your email address and maybe a phone number as well. The next thing you know, you are getting considerable traffic into your inbox, along with phone calls, from the vendor. You may also be receiving unsolicited mail from other vendors. How does this happen?

Spam is any kind of unwanted, unsolicited digital communication that gets sent out in bulk. Often spam is sent via email, but it can also be distributed via text messages, phone calls or social media.

Once you give your email address to a company, it becomes a part of their database. Sometimes these databases are sold or shared with other companies. Make sure to read privacy policies before sharing such information. Of course, there is also the risk of the company experiencing a data breach and your information could become publicly accessible.

Staying Off the List

Whenever you sign up for a product or service online, there could also be default actions checked. These actions can include receiving information and updates from this service and other companies' services and products as well. Uncheck any of these defaults that you are not interested in.

Next time you are required to enter an email address to interact with a website or vendor, consider using a guest account, if available. If not, set up a separate email address with yahoo, msn, hotmail, Google or other email hosting domains. You don't have to monitor it and it will help to keep your primary email inbox clean of clutter.

Most email clients have the ability to report messages as spam. This can train your filter to recognize and redirect those messages into a spam or junk folder. Check your spam folder periodically for any legitimate messages that might have gotten caught incorrectly in the filter, especially if you are waiting to receive a message and have not yet seen it.

  • Don't click on links in the spam email. Clicking links in a spam message confirms to the spammers that they have reached their target.
  • Never post your email address publicly.
  • Install anti-virus software and spam filtering tools. This will help to avoid malicious software being installed on your device.
  • Be careful about the unsubscribe link, as it is often another way to collect valid emails for use with other spam services.