Spam: it’s a nasty thing that you can’t elude, no matter what you do. Of course, I’m talking about unwanted emails and, more generally, unwanted junk mail and phone calls that come our way in overwhelming quantities every day and not the canned meat product (capital “S”) from Hormel (which some people find to be delicious). Somehow or in some way, you’ll get spam. If you’re careless, you’ll get a lot more than you will by using some preventative measure to reduce and almost completely eliminate it. This guide is for not only email spam, but unwanted email and phone calls, too.
In the United States, companies are easily able to get your personal information such as name, phone number, and email address. They then use any combination of the above to bombard you with advertisements. This can get annoying and downright frustrating when you get it constantly.
Email spam is the most common spam because it costs virtually nothing to send an email to a mass mailing list. A paper ad, on the other hand, has to be mailed out and its paper, printing, and stamp must be paid for in each instance. The best way to fight email spam is by filters within your email client; this isn’t a 100% foolproof way to block spam, but you’ll get most everything with it.
Most online email providers have their own spam filters, which can be modified; many learn by your tagging of spam email. These services usually have settings that can be changed when preventing email spam. From the super locked down to almost wide open, you can adjust these settings to be just how you like. I’ve had great spam filtering by Google’s Gmail and it catches the big and small stuff. Keep in mind that most modern, paid anti-virus suites have a spam email filter setting that plugs into your desktop email client that can be of some use.
Junk mail sent through the good, old-fashioned Post Office is another heavy-hitting form of advertisement that can get on your nerves. Sometimes these pieces of mail look like something official and are a scam in reality. To cut down on this physical form of spam filling up your real-life mailbox, you can use a service called DMAChoice.
One way of cutting down on your influx of junk mail is to make sure you know where you’re giving out your mailing address. Part of preventing it in the first place is making sure that you don’t share it anywhere online unless you trust the person, site, or service to whom you’re giving such information. Most reputable sites have clear restrictions about giving out your data and will tell you so.
Phone calls are getting less common, but can still be a hassle at times. I once got a phone call trying to make me install a piece of malware on my computer because the person on the other end claimed to be from the computer company. Thankfully there is a government-regulated organization called the National Do Not Call Registry that watches out for you and removes your number from calling lists.
As a general rule of thumb, unless you know exactly who is calling, then you should never give out any personal information or credit card numbers. Even if the person calling claims to be from your bank or credit card company, they should never ask for any personal information over the phone.
If you don’t want to give out your personal email address, consider one-use email addresses or separate email addresses specifically designated for signing up with services. The best spam filter or blocker is you: Know what is happening and that you understand it.