- STEERING CLEAR OF SPAM

If you've been active on the web for awhile, then you're probably getting more junk email, or Spam, than you care to. Unfortunately, regardless of how much, or little, Spam you receive now, it's only going to get worse as the Internet continues to grow.

Don't misunderstand, I'm not saying that Spam will be the death of the web, or anything so dire as that. However, when you're in a hurry to check email and have to wait for fifty junk messages to download just to get the one important email you were actually expecting, it can be quite an inconvenience. Worse yet is if an important message is overlooked entirely, buried in a sea of junk email that overwhelms your inbox.

While you'll probably never be entirely free from receiving junk email, there are several things you can do to minimize its impact on your productivity.

1) Get a separate "junk box" - Go to Yahoo or Hotmail, both of which have Spam blocking technology built in to their systems, and sign up for a free email account that you can use for online forms and transactions. Then, if you're asked to provide an email address while at a web site that's likely to either sell your email address to online marketers or to add you to their marketing email list, simply give them this junk email address.

You can check the junk box once a week or so, just to see if there's anything truly interesting there, without having these solicitations encumber your business and personal email correspondence.

2) Never rat out your friends - If you're sending friends and acquaintances web-based greeting cards, signing them up for online contests or giving out their email addresses to Web sites for any reason whatsoever, then you're simply turning them over to the junk marketers.

No matter how innocent a web site may make it sound, if they ask for the email addresses of your friends, they're going to abuse those addresses, and yours too!

3) To "unsubscribe" or not - Most Spam now contains removal instructions so that you can presumably get off the sender's marketing list. However, unless the message originates from a reputable web site, requesting removal of your email address may simply bring you more junk, not less.

Reputable companies cannot afford to go back on their word, so if Yahoo, Amazon or Kmart is sending you promotional email and you want off, go ahead and follow the removal instructions.

On the other hand, if the Spam is from some company or organization you've never heard of, usually selling products or services of dubious value, then you probably don't want to send a reply of any sort. To do so would enhance the market value of your email address, as you're now a "verified" email address.

Your reply just proved that your email account is both valid and active; and now you're address will most likely be sold to Spam marketers more often than before.

4) Software Solutions - There are numerous software programs available on the web that can help you manage your incoming junk email. While many can cause more hassles than they are worth, two stand out as pretty valuable programs: www.SpamKiller.com & www.MailWasher.net and both are quite reasonably priced.

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Copyrighted with all rights reserved by Stephen M. Canale