There are many reasons why you might suffer from unsolicited commercial email, or SPAM, in your inbox. In some cases, you have no control over this — for example, some spam is sent by hackers who simply input any possible combination of letters associated with your domain name when they send out mailings. In this case, some of the spam will inevitably reach you. However, there are certain actions you can take to make sure that you receive only the minimum amount of spam.
1) Use Smaller Email Services: “Freemail” services like Hotmail and Yahoo are the most likely to receive unsolicited commercial messages. Hackers send out thousands and thousands of messages to random addresses in the hopes of getting a hit. Although the response rate to these messages is less than .001%, it still justifies the time and effort involved in sending them. Smaller email services make less tempting targets because, understood as a percentage, less potential profit is involved.
2) Be Cautious of Social Media and Forums: Putting your email address out on the Internet will inevitably lead to some spam. The most persistent spammers do not spam random email addresses, but instead “harvest” email addresses that they know are valid and active. To accomplish this harvesting, they go online to popular social media sites and to forums that do not encrypt email addresses. You should not list your email address in any forum profile. Only offer to share your address through a private message.
3) Use Email Associated With Your Domain: If you own a business or a blog with its own domain name, using an email address associated with that domain will cut down on spam. This goes back to the principles explained above — your business is likely not a huge target with millions of users, and therefore is not on most hackers’ radar screens. Be cautious of listing your email on your website, however, as this can lead to spam from “website development services” companies, often offshore.
4) If You Must List Your Email, Use an Image: Any text on the Internet can easily be crawled and indexed by bots used by the major search engines. On the other hand, images are indexed infrequently. If you need to share your email address, either on your own site or in your forum signature, use an image that lists the address. Bots cannot interpret the text in the image, although you will still be susceptible to a small minority of hackers who might be trawling a given website for leads.
5) Use a Spam Filter: Today’s spam filters have the capacity to be incredibly precise. For example, in more than five years of holding a Gmail account, one might only see two or three spam emails. Although hundreds of spam messages are sent, more than 99.9% end up in the Spam filter, where they will never trouble you. If you’re having difficulty with spam, explore your filtering options. There are free and commercial spam filters available.