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SPAM - You can't stop it, but maybe you can help prevent it!
- Ray Buchta, Contributing Editor

Some days it seems like 90% of my emails are SPAM and I end up spending an hour deleting junk messages from my inbox. Late last year I turned on the SPAM filter on my mail server and it now deletes them before I download my messages. It has saved me a lot of daily deleting, but some junk still gets through. And it has also deleted some important messages (more about that later), but in the long run I think it's a real time saver.

But filtering isn't the real fix to the problem...it's only a
countermeasure. The only way to stop SPAM is to make sure your address doesn't fall into the wrong hands. Here are a few suggestions:

+ Don't post your email address on your website.

Many companies post their employees' email addresses on their
website. Bad idea. Spammers run programs (called "spiders") that automatically download any website they can find. They then search the data for email addresses (fairly simple - they look for the "@" symbol) and add them to their spamming lists.

Instead of posting "Contact sales@xyzcorp.com for more information", have a form on the contact page for the user to fill out. Your web designer should have a simple script that takes that information and emails it you in the background. Your email address should never appear in any of the public code on your site.

+ Use a special email address when you register domains.

When you register a domain (.com, .net, etc) you are required to give them an email address. This address becomes part of the public record and has historically been the best place for spammers to "spider" and collect email addresses. Do a WHOIS search on any domain name and it will tell you who owns the domain as well as their email address.

I think most of us have multiple email addresses nowadays (I get 7 with my cable modem and unlimited with the .com's I own), so pick one to use when you register domain names and just delete all the messages you get to that account (use filters in your email software to do so automatically). Or use the private registration option (usually costs a few more bucks a year) that hides your email address on WHOIS.

+ Don't use your email address in postings

Don't put your email address in postings you make to eBay,
craigslists, MySpace, Google News, or any other web forum. If you do, be prepared to start receiving junk messages. Most sites have a legitimate way for interested parties to contact you via the website without disclosing your email address to the general public.

+ Use the phone when it's really important

This may sound archaic or retro, but pickup the phone and call
someone when you have an important message to relay. I had a client email me three times about a problem they were having. I only discovered this a week later when I got an angry "you never wrote back" call. While we were on the phone I opened my Junk mail folder, searched for her email address and found three messages that had been marked as spam. I've since added my customer email addresses to my whitelist so they don't get flagged, but more importantly I've asked them all to call me if they don't get an email response from me in a day or two (or an hour if it's something important like a server going down).

Ray Buchta
Tech-Savvy Consulting Incorporated

PO Box 7556
Wilmington, DE 19803
877.HME.2001 TOLL FREE
302.250.4785 FAX

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