How to Outwit E-Junk Thugs

by Emily Barnes

As long as you are a participating member of an electronic mail service, you are going to get it. Unless you have a team of highly aggressive e-cops patrolling your e-premises and taking down the bad e-guys before they reach your desktop, you are going to get e-junk. Get used to it. But, rather than let e-junk rain on your e-motions, take charge! You really can outwit e-junksters, electronic mail thugs. Here are five actions to take starting now:

  1. Set-Up A Junk Room. Many internet service providers allow users to have multiple mailboxes. Use one of them exclusively for receiving junk e-mail. Create an e-junk mailbox and use it exclusively to surf the internet, register at web sites, engage in discussion groups, or have online information sent to you. Conduct all of your “public” activity only from the protection of this junk mail control center. When lurkers grab your e-junk screen name while you browse, they will get a first-class seat in your junk room! Now, how cool is that? (If your primary mailbox is already inundated with junk e-mail, make it your junk room and create another address for controlled use.)
  2. Never Open E-Junk. Sometimes spam mail contains an HTML code that, when the e-mail is opened, returns a message to the originating server saying the addressee’s account is active. In such cases, additional e-junk is guaranteed to follow. For this reason, it is better to delete e-junk than to open it. Some senders invite you to “Unsubscribe,” another way to “register” you for more junk mail. Avoid this by simply deleting the e-mail before opening it.
  3. Always Delete E-Junk. Spammers attempt to get you to open their e-junk by using subject lines that suggest they know you: “Remember Me.” They pretend to respond to a query you never made, “Here’s the information you requested.” Your choices are to delete, delete, delete all of it or suffer the consequences of opening it.
  4. Rule Your Junk-Free Mailbox. Make your e-junk mailbox the decoy for all of those e-thugs lurking in the shadows, for folks sending lots of e-jokes, for everything unrelated to your important business or personal matters. Browse it occasionally, read the funnies, scan it for relevant information, and feel your power when you delete the trash that is sure to accumulate there.
  5. Expose E-Junksters. Every once in awhile you will dislike seeing the same old no-good thugs passed out in your junk room. Go ahead and turn them over to the e-cops. One very proactive authority is the Mail Abuse Prevention System (MAPS www.mail-abuse.org) which has a database that lists internet service providers who allow their members to send unsolicited mail or to profit from having it sent. Subscribers to MAPS can block traffic from offending ISPs listed in the database. Another resource is SpamCop, www.spamcop.net, which offers free and paid spam reporting and prevention services. If you register for these services, remember to do it from your junk mail control center. You cannot be too careful.

These five steps create a handy acronym for controlling your e-junk. Without looking back, what is it?

First, let’s review: If you really want to outsmart e-thugs, you will need at least two e-mailboxes. Use one as the waiting room for strangers and the other as the waiting room for people you know. Surf only from your junk box, delete junk mail without opening it and report e-thugs as often as possible. You can control e-junk! Now, the acronym: SNARE. That’s right. Snare e-junksters; turn’em in!

© Emily Barnes 2004