After about five years with the same e-mail address, I finally had to
pull the plug on my easy-to-remember e-mail address in October of 2003
spam. I was receiving over 100 spam messages per day, and wading
through them to find my important e-mail was taking more and more of my
time. Because of the applications I must use for my e-mail, filtering
is not a good option for me. Yes, it upsets me that spammers
forced me into changing to a cryptic e-mail address, but now that I'm
smarter about what not to do, hopefully my new address will last longer.
If it starts getting high volumes of spam, you can bet that I'll change
If you've forgotten my address, you can still
send me e-mail.
Below I give my tips on how to avoid spam. I base these on
a couple of articles:
(1) The MIT Technology Review, July/August 2003, cover story, "Spam
Wars," and (2) The Consumer Reports issue from August 2003 (also the
1. First and foremost, treat your and other people's e-mail addresses
like the private information that they are. Don't publish e-mail
addresses on any web site and don't e-mail them to strangers or people
you are not sure you trust.
2. If you can get a second e-mail account for free (for example, on
yahoo.com or hotmail.com), use that account for registering with
services or businesses that you are not sure you trust to keep your
e-mail address private.
3. Try to be judicious when sending e-mail to a large list of people.
Putting a ton of e-mail addresses in your TO list "cross-pollenates"
e-mail addresses, making all of these addresses available to the entire
group you are sending to. Consider using the BCC field for your large
list since it will not display the complete list of recipients to all
recipients. One drawback to using BCC is that some people may filter
out your e-mail if their address is not explicitly in the TO or CC field
(as a measure against spam!).
4. Choose an e-mail address that is not easy to guess. Spammers can get
your e-mail address even if it isn't published
anywhere because they can guess at it, trying millions of combinations
and keeping the ones that don't bounce.
5. Don't ever answer a spam mail or even read it. Don't unsubscribe.
Just delete it. I don't even recommend that you bounce it, as the
return address on most spam is forged
(this happened to me).
6. Don't forward chain letters, petitions, warnings, etc. These could
be ploys to collect addresses.
7. If you like, forward your spam to the FTC's spam collection address
8. Filter your e-mail. Consumer Reports reviewed several filtering
programs, including Stata Labs SAProxy,
Mailshell's SpamCatcher, Blue Squirrel's Spam Sleuth, Symantec's Norton
Internet Security 2003, MailFrontier's Matador, Sunbelt's iHateSpam,
FireTrust's MailWasher Pro, McAfee's SpamKiller, and InterMute's Spam
Subtract. I have listed them in the order that they were rated
(best to worst), though all but InterMute were rated at least "good."
9. If you have a registered domain name, your e-mail address can be
harvested from your registration information at the
from your registrar. You might consider
using a service from
which keeps your registration information private for $9/year. If you
don't want to go that far, then use a registrar like
wild west domains, which makes
it difficult for automatic scripts to look up your information on their