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Spam: The never-ending story

August 15, 2007

Despite a maze of federal and state laws, constant busts of so-called "spam kings" and enough anti-spam programs to fill a supermarket, it just doesn't get any better, does it?

Of all the e-mail questions and complaints I get from readers, how to get rid of spam remains probably the most asked.

I offer up all the standard suggestions: Be careful in listing your e-mail address... never open attachments that arrive in e-mail unsolicited... update whatever anti-spam software you use often...don't click the link that promises to remove your name from the spammer's master list... and so on and so on.

But still it arrives.

I've been pretty successful in getting most of the spam I receive (several hundred a day) automatically trashed, thanks to a software program I use called Spam Sieve. That's for my Mac. On my PC, I've had pretty good luck with a program called ChoiceMail, which has first time e-mailers fill out a form and get put on your safe list of approved senders before forwarding it to your e-mail box.

But the fact of the matter is 70% of all the e-mail sent on the Net today is junk and a lot of people are simply swamped by spam.

Typical of many of the questions I get about spam is one I got this week from a Detroit-area woman who has tried most of the the tactics I've suggested but - perhaps because she is a Realtor whose address is everywhere - just keeps getting slammed. Here's her note:

"SPAM has taken control of my life. I do a fair amount of web based customer contact so I am committed to checking email at least once a day from where ever I am in the world. Email makes my business virtual, there is little I cannot do on line for and with my residential real estate clients. Now, however, I must check email 4-5 times a day because I am getting so much spam, upwards of 250 messages a day. My business mail is forwarded from my company account to my account so I only have to check one email account. I see from color coding yahoo messages that 80 percent of the spam comes via that account. Most of it is sexual, some for drugs, lots of greeting cards in last two weeks. The Yahoo spam filter does nothing for me...I mark spam as spam and there it is again in minutes. I must not be the only person having this major deleting spam I am deleting some good client messages as well. Sorting thru it all has become a big burden and business time waster. I feel tied to my PC...if I do not delete this stuff it overwhelms me and my in box. I cannot change my company email address...too many people have it. Is there add on software I can purchase? Any solutions, easy or otherwise? Cost no object, I have lost business because in my frustration I have deleted valuable messages. Thanks!"

Okay readers: help me help her. What suggestions can you offer?

Author:  Mike Wendland


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