Picture of a man with an eye patch on a computer with the history of how spam emails were named.

Since the beginning of the internet, we have seen many fads come and go as times change. While most of these fads die down after a while, one of them seems never to go away. Named after a famous Monthy Python sketch; Spam has plagued our email inboxes for decades. But how do you get spam? And how can you prevent it?

It’s older than you think.

Spam is an older term that most people seem to believe. Since the beginning of email addresses, internet users have received millions of junk (spam) email pieces every year. While the distribution means might have changed slightly, the final product and annoyance has been the same.

There is a difference between bulk email and spam email.

Bulk email is often mass email sent by companies and web pages as a means of a promotional campaign. Spam email follows the same approach, but with a less clear and legit origin or intention. Thanks to this differentiation in the type of content, most email providers can automatically filter different kinds of emails into categories.

It does not matter what you do; you will always get some spam.

Even if you follow excellent internet practices and use your email address correctly, you will always get some junk or spam along with your regular emails. This occurs because webpages are collecting your email address through their call-to-action measures such as newsletter signups or by targeting random email addresses. Even if it is not entirely preventable, being cautious with giving your information can reduce the amount of spam.  From there your email client’s spam filter will hopefully help to filter out the rest. 

Is there anything I can do to help with spam email?

There is a more active approach to fight against spam emails. If you are already receiving spam in your inbox; you can take the following actions to reduce or prevent yourself from receiving more of them:

  • UNSUBSCRIBE FROM THE EMAIL LISTING – This is especially useful if you receive an unwanted email from a service or newsletter that you gave your email address. The US law states that these kinds of emails should have a link to request they stop sending you emails.  Once you unsubscribe, they have 15 business days to remove you from their distribution list.
  • REPORT THEM AS SPAM EMAIL IN YOUR EMAIL CLIENT – If you have already tried the previous step, and the sender’s emails are still arriving; mark the sender as spam inside your email client. Most email providers have this as a built-in option.  Once the sender is identified as spam it helps the email provider identify the sender as spam and make the process automatic for other users. It is advisable to try to unsubscribe first before reporting the sender as spam since it can damage legitimate businesses.
  • REPORT THE ADDRESS TO THE FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION – If all the previous measures are unsuccessful, you can report the spam email address to the Consumer Information branch of the Federal Trade Commission using the following link: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0038-spam.

Even if it seems like a never-ending situation, you can be reasonably successful in the battle against junk email.  The key to being successful is to take measures to prevent it as much as possible before it starts.  By staying ahead, you won’t have to put in all the effort to be removed from the distribution list.