23 April 2018
Do you wade through your email inbox trying to find the emails you want to read among the, perhaps, hundreds or thousands of spam and junk emails?
More importantly, spam email can be dangerous, especially if you click on the links contained in them.
Must we simply accept that we will always receive masses of junk email?
Although you may never completely solve the problem, there are things that you can do to make the situation better. Here are some tips you may find helpful:
Use more than one email address to compartmentalise your digital life. As long as you’re careful to give out the correct email address for the situation, it can help to reduce spam in the inbox of your ‘main’ email address.
Think of the number of times you’ve been asked to provide your email address when accessing a particular service online - they now have your personal contact details. Providing all and sundry with your primary email address is a little like providing them with your home address or telephone number. Think twice before doing so.
One way around this is to have a dedicated email address for these occasions. You can call it what you like (firstname.lastname@example.org, for example). Use it knowing that any resultant spam will land in a separate account.
When you sign up to many services, the terms and conditions might also invite you to give your consent to receive marketing emails. Although things should change with the new General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR), this consent is often assumed unless you specifically opt out. This usually involves removing a tick from a box. So, any time you provide your email address online, check to see whether this option is available.
If you signed up to a service, and you no longer have any interest in being contacted, marketing emails should contain an unsubscribe link. You can use this link to tell the sender that you want to be removed from their list. This doesn’t always work but hopefully, once GDPR comes into force in May this year, things should get better. This is because GDPR provides for a ‘right to be forgotten’.
You could also delete the account if you’re no longer interested in a particular company or service. This should prevent you from receiving any more emails.
Most email providers provide a spam or junk filter with their service. It’s a separate folder that collects everything it thinks is spam email. They’re usually pretty good at filtering but occasionally they might mark something as spam that isn’t. They certainly won’t filter out all the spam email you receive.
However, they can be ‘trained’. By systematically moving spam email into the spam folder it should learn over time to filter emails from particular addresses automatically. Also, you can manually instruct your spam filter to intercept emails from particular addresses.
If your spam settings are filtering legitimate emails they can be marked as ‘not spam’ so that the filter ignores them in the future.
A drastic step, but if your spam problem is unbearable starting from scratch might be the worth considering. You can still keep your previous email address and even set it up to forward emails from named contacts to your new address.
The downside to moving to a new email address is ensuring that everyone you want to have your new address is informed. It’s not insurmountable though, it’s just like moving house for example.